3 Sneaky Gonorrhea Symptoms in Women
When it comes to sexually transmitted infections, the second most commonly reported communicable disease in the U.S.—gonorrhea—is a sly one. It's spread through unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Gonorrhea can be stealthy because while some infected men may experience a burning sensation when urinating, have discharge from the penis, or occasionally even painful or swollen testicles, there are often no gonorrhea symptoms in women who have been infected.
"Most people who are female don't have symptoms," says June Gupta, a women's health nurse practitioner and the associate director of medical standards for Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "If they do, it's usually pain or burning with urination, yellow or bloody discharge, or spotting or bleeding between periods."
When symptoms of gonorrhea are present in women they might include:
1. Painful urination:There might be a burning sensation when urinating
2. Spotting:Bleeding between periods can be a tell-tale sign
3. Heavy discharge:Experiencing more vaginal discharge than normal is a red flag
Sometimes, when symptoms are present, they are so mild as to be undetectable, although a health care provider might notice unusual discharge, for example, during a pelvic exam.
These symptoms are also easily confused with those of more innocuous infections—such as bladder or vaginal infections. Much like hemorrhoids, rectal infections in either sex might produce such anal discharge or itching, soreness, painful bowel movements, and even bleeding.
The good news is that most gonorrhea can be cured with antibiotics—although a recent spike in a drug-resistant strain of gonorrhea has proven troubling. When gonorrhea is ignored or left untreated, however, it can be devastating. In men, it can cause sterility. In women, untreated gonorrhea can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, which may result in scar tissue that blocks fallopian tubes and causes ectopic pregnancy, long-term pelvic or abdominal pain, or infertility.
So, how do you know if you have gonorrhea? Get tested. A urine test should serve up an answer, although your doctor may also want to perform an oral, anal, or cervical swab to collect additional results.
The cure for gonorrhea is a relatively painless, says Gupta: Most patients receive a single injection of an antibiotic. In some cases patients may also receive an antibiotic pill. During treatment, and for seven days after, you should abstain from sex. If you do test positive, it's also important to have an immediate conversation with your partner. In this case, sharing is not caring. Not only is it important to prevent transmission to someone else, you also want to eliminate the possibility of immediate reinfection.
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