Five Things Every Student Needs to Know About Gonorrhea
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) are a big deal for young adults. We wanted to follow up our earlier post on chlamydia from a few weeks ago and talk about gonorrhea. We understand that this is a topic that you may not want bring up to your friends or family. Hopefully you find this information helps you make good decisions about your health and future.
Did you know that gonorrhea is a common infectious disease? It’s so common that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 820,000 people in the US get new infections each year. They also estimate that 570,000 of those infections are happening to young people 15-24 years of age. So you can see why this is a big deal to know a little bit about gonorrhea to keep yourself safe.
Here are five things every student needs to know about Gonorrhea:
1. What is it?
Gonorrhea (also called the “clap” or “drip”) is a bacterial infection that often co-exists with chlamydia (but not always) and is passed on through sexual contact. You can get gonorrhea by having vaginal, oral, or anal sex with someone who is infected. If your sex partner is male you can still get gonorrhea even if he doesn’t ejaculate. And if you happen to be pregnant and have gonorrhea, the infection can be passed through your birth canal on to your baby and cause serious issues during childbirth and beyond, such as blindness.
Also, if you’ve had gonorrhea and were treated in the past, you can still get infected again if you have sex with another person who has gonorrhea.
2. How will I feel if I have gonorrhea?
Just like with chlamydia, there are often NO symptoms, especially for women. This disease spreads rapidly because many people don’t know they have it and so they continue to pass it on and don’t know they have infected others.
Gonorrhea in women often goes undetected because they think they have either a mild vaginal or bladder infection. If they do have symptoms they initially include dysuria (meaning it hurts to pee), increased vaginal discharge, or vaginal bleeding between periods. Women with gonorrhea are at risk of developing serious complications from the infection, regardless of the presence or severity of symptoms.
For men, if they have symptoms there is a urethral infection with dysuria or a white, yellow, or green urethral discharge that usually appears one to fourteen days after infection. In cases where urethral infection is complicated by epididymitis, men with gonorrhea may also complain of testicular or scrotal pain.
Occasionally men and women can experience pain, swelling, discharge and bleeding from the rectum.
3. How do I know for sure I have gonorrhea?
You have to get tested. There is no other way. Collage
will soon be provides gonorrhea testing and treatment in both our Kearney and Grand Island offices. (Updated Jan 2015) You will be able can to schedule an appointment for a screening and if your test comes back positive we will recommend a treatment plan for you to pursue. There is a $10 lab fee for this test, but it is important for you to get tested if you choose to remain sexually active. (Updated Dec 2014 – Due to the generous support of our donors we are able to offer this service at no charge to our clients)
4. What happens if I don’t get treated?
You’re placing your sexual health and future at risk. If left untreated the results can be serious, especially for women. Women who let gonorrhea go are at risk for Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), infertility, and potentially an ectopic pregnancy. For men, it’s rare but possible that gonorrhea will prevent them from being able to have children. Also, if left untreated, gonorrhea can also spread to the blood and cause disseminated gonococcal infection (DGI). DGI is usually characterized by arthritis, tenosynovitis, and/or dermatitis. This condition can be life threatening.
5. Is there treatment if I test positive for gonorrhea?
Yes. It is important that if you do test positive for this STD that you get medication. In order for the treatment to be successful you also need to take all of the medication prescribed, not have sexual contact during treatment, and not have sexual contact for 7 days after completing treatment. These standards apply to your partners also. And don’t forget to retest at 3 months, if possible, but no later than 1 year after being treated.
We encourage you to do your research. Some people think gonorrhea isn’t a big deal. They’ll say that it is easily treated and can be avoided by always using a condom. Unfortunately the answers just aren’t that simple.
There is only one sure-fire way to avoid contracting any STD and that is to abstain from having sex (vaginal, oral, and anal) until you are in a mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner.
Just like our previous post stated, we want you to stay tuned to the blog or check back on our website and Facebook Page for information in the near future about when we will be launching our STD screening services. (Updated Jan 2015 – We are now offering testing and treatment for women and men.) If you are sexually active and need tested, we hope to see you. Also, be sure to tell your friends about our services. We’re here to help you and to continue the conversation about not only gonorrhea and chlamydia but other harmful STDs you may have questions about. You can also go here to get information from the CDC about gonorrhea.