Gonorrhea recently made international headlines, with outbreaks occurring worldwide and a strain of the infection seemingly becoming resistant to antibiotics. Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection, and, like STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections) I have talked about in other posts, commonly will show no symptoms. So what is gonorrhea, what are the symptoms and what do you need to consider if you are sexually active?
What Is Gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea, also know as “the clap,” is an STI caused by bacteria and usually affects the genitals, but can also be found in the throat and anus. Although it targets both men and women, it is most easily transmitted during vaginal sex, but can also be spread by oral and anal sex.
Gonorrhea symptoms differ between men and women.
Women will often have no symptoms or symptoms which overlap with other common conditions, so it can take much longer to be diagnosed and treated. These symptoms, which occur within 10 days of infection include pain during sex, pain while urinating, and unusual vaginal discharge. As these symptoms are similar to urinary tract infections (UTIs), gonorrhea can go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.
Gonorrhea usually affects the urethra (the inside of the penis) in men, and the symptoms, which develop within 1 -3 days of infection include pain while urinating, white discharge from the penis and swelling and pain in the testicles.
Anal and oral gonorrhea are usually accompanied by little to no symptoms. When gonorrhea affects a person’s throat, they may experience a sore throat and nothing more.
Undiagnosed gonorrhoea in women is particularly harmful as it can lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) which can result in infertility. It can also cause infertility in men, by damaging the tubes that carry semen.
Diagnosing and Treating Gonorrhea
Gonorrhea will not go away by itself and can cause serious complications if left untreated.
To diagnose gonorrhoea, a swab is taken from the cervix in women or from the urethra in men. Swabs may also be taken from the throat and anus in order to diagnose the extent of the infection.
Gonorrhea is relatively easy to treat, requiring a course of antibiotics. You may need to be re-tested after you finish your meds (to check they have worked) and have follow up testing three months after the initial infection to ensure you are clear.
Due to the highly infectious nature of gonorrhea, you need to avoid sexual contact with others for at least a week after you have finished treatment and been cleared. Using condoms and dams is not fail safe for the spread of this STI. It is recommended that you notify your sexual partners from the last 3 – 6 months prior to your diagnosis so that they can get tested.
Prevention is better than cure
As with other STIs, prevention is better than cure.
If you are diagnosed with gonorrhea, it can severely impact your ability to work with others safely for an extended period of time. If you work with other models, even as an amateur or semi-professional, it is important to get tested regularly. I have discussed in an earlier post the schedule around testing that is recommended, although access to and affordability of testing differs from country to country. Having a discussion with all your partners about the importance of testing and preventing the spread of STIs is essential to not only keeping your work going, but also protecting your health.
Rem Sequence is an Australian adult content creator, blogger and internationally published alt model. She has a background in psychology, philosophy and political science and has worked in health and sex education, youth work and trauma counseling for almost two decades. Contact Rem via firstname.lastname@example.org and visit her on Twitter at @remsequence.