What do I need to know?

In the U.S., there are over 800,000 new cases of gonorrhea per year, with at least half of the cases among those 15-24 years of age. It is present on college campuses, including Alfred University. It is passed from person to person with intimate contact including sexual intercourse, oral contact or anal contact. Symptoms after exposure can be very mild or nonspecific, or an individual can be asymptomatic. Thus, it is important to undergo regular testing. Here are some facts about symptoms

Symptoms in Women:

  • Most are asymptomatic or very mild/nonspecific
  • Painful urination
  • Increased vaginal discharge
  • Spotting between periods
  • Rectal discharge, itching, soreness, bleeding, or painful bowel movements (rectal infection)
  • Sore throat (pharyngeal infection)

Symptoms in Men:

  • Many are asymptomatic
  • Pain in testicles or scrotum
  • Discharge from the penis (white, yellow, or green)
  • Painful urination
  • Rectal discharge, itching, soreness, bleeding, or painful bowel movements(rectal infection)
  • Sore throat (pharyngeal infection)

Why is it important to treat gonorrhea?

Untreated gonorrhea can cause serious, permanent damage to a woman’s or a man’s reproductive system. This may lead to difficulty with pregnancy or inability to become pregnant in the future. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is another risk for women with untreated gonorrhea. Symptoms of PID include abdominal/pelvic pain that can be chronic. In both men and women, untreated gonorrhea can spread into the blood and cause disseminated gonococcal infection (DGI) characterized by arthritis, dermatitis, and/or muscular problems. DGI can be life threatening.

How can gonorrhea be prevented?

If one is sexually active, it is important to keep in mind a few factors in an effort to reduce risks:

  • A long term, mutually monogamous relationship with someone who has tested negative for STIs is an ideal situation for reducing risk.
  • Correct use of latex condoms every time there is sexual contact is important.
  • Gonorrhea can be spread from male to female even without ejaculation.
  • Once treated for gonorrhea once, there is no natural immunity… re-infection is possible.

What is involved in testing and treatment?

Testing and treatment is available at the Alfred University Health Center in a confidential and compassionate manner. Depending on history, samples can be obtained (often via self-swab) from the vagina, anus, and/or throat. For males, a urine sample can be obtained. Treatment is available with use of antibiotics. It is imperative to refrain from ANY form of sexual contact for at least a week to prevent reinfection. Partners (up to 2 months prior to symptoms) should be informed of the exposure and treated. If symptoms don’t improve, it is important to report this to the healthcare provider as there are reports of antibiotic resistance in some cases. If concerned, please call the health center to discuss your specific risks and options for testing.

CDC Gonorrhea