Debunking Gonorrhea: Causes, Symptoms, and Prevention

Gonorrhea is a communicable sexually transmitted disease of humans caused by neisseria gonorrhoeae, a gram-negative diplococcus. It infects mucous lining of urethra, rectum, cervix, conjunctivae and  pharynx. 

Gonorrhea is most commonly spread during vaginal, oral or anal sex. But babies of infected mothers can be infected during childbirth. 

Gonorrhea : Understanding The Culprits

The natural hosts for N. gonorrhea are humans. It is more common in homosexuals. It involves unmarried teenagers commonly. The gonorrhea is commonly spread by asymptomatic carriers, but symptomatic individuals who ignore symptoms, are also potent sources of spread. The incubation period is usually 2 – 10 days.  In people assigned female at birth, the most common site of infection is the cervix, while in people assigned male at birth, infection usually starts in the urethra. 

What doesn’t cause gonorrhea ? 

Gonorrhea generally spreads easily during sexual intercourse. You can’t get gonorrhea from : 

  • Sharing foods, clothes, drinks and silverware.
  • Hugging, kissing and holding hands.
  • Sharing the toilet.
  • Inhaling droplets after someone coughs.

In Males 

The presenting symptoms include dysuria, increased frequency of micturition and purulent discharge per urethra due to infection of anterior urethra. Sometimes, symptoms may be mild and the person does not seek medical advice. Symptoms that need medical advice are : 

  • Pain and burning during peeing.
  • Yellow, green or whitish discharge from the penis. 
  • Oedema and erythema of urethral meatus.  
  • Testicular pain

In Females 

Dysuria, vaginal discharge, abnormal menstrual bleeding and rectal discomfort are common complaints due to involvement of cervix, vagina, urethra and anorectal region. When symptoms are present, they may include:

  • Pain during sexual intercourse. 
  • Pain in lower abdomen.
  • Pain or burning during peeing.
  • White or yellowish vaginal discharge.
  • Abnormal bleeding between periods. 

In Homosexuals 

There is asymptomatic rectal infection in homosexual males but asymptomatic pharyngeal infection is common both in homosexuals and heterosexuals of both sexes. 

In All Genders 

Common symptoms include : 

  • Throat – Itchy feeling, soreness and trouble swallowing. 
  • Anus – pain and discharge, when poop. 
Risk Factors

Sexually active women younger than 25 and men who have sex with men are at increased risk of getting gonorrhea. Other risk factors include : 

  • Having more than one sex partner.
  • Having a new sex partner.
  • Having sexually transmitted infection. 
Testing And Diagnosis 

It is necessary to explain each and every symptom and sexual history to your healthcare provider. Body fluid will need to be tested for the bacteria that causes gonorrhea. The confirmation of diagnosis is done by direct isolation of gram – negative intracellular diplococci in the stained smear of material obtained from the urethra or vagina. Culture of the organisms on selective media and characteristic biochemical tests further help in confirmation. Blood culture is also useful to detect it. 

Preventing Strategies : Guarding Your Sexual Health

Here are some prevention strategies to reduce gonorrhea risk : 

  • Limit the number of sex partners. 
  • Use a condom, during any type of sexual contact or sex. 
  • Regularly get tested for sexually transmitted infections.
  • Consider regular gonorrhea screening. It is necessary for sexually active women younger than 25 and for men, who have sex with men, as well as their partners. 
Treatment And Complications 

You can’t treat it with over-the-counter or home remedies. If you have symptoms of it, you should go for gonorrhea screening. Antibiotics are the best options to treat gonorrhea. Due to emerging strains of drug-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoea, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that uncomplicated gonorrhoea be treated with the antibiotic ceftriaxone given as a shot, called an injection. Avoid sexual activity for at least seven days for better results. It’s important to take all of your medication to completely treat the infection, even if your symptoms go away before you finish your prescription.

Untreated STIs like gonorrhea may move into the reproductive tract and can affect fallopian tubes, uterus and ovaries, which can lead to a condition called pelvic inflammatory disease. This condition leads to severe chronic pain and damage to the reproductive organs. 

Blocking of the fallopian tubes can make it more difficult to become pregnant. It may also pass to a newborn infant during delivery. In the case of penis, untreated gonorrhea may lead to scarring of the urethra, severe chronic pain and inflammation of the semen-carrying tubes near your testicles. 


In the realm of sexual health, knowledge is a valuable ally. As we conclude our journey through the world of it, remember that understanding this STI is the first step in protecting yourself and your partners. Open conversations, regular testing, and safe practices are powerful tools for maintaining sexual well-being.

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