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The early signs and symptoms of gonorrhea can be be difficult to spot. The likelihood of developing symptoms partially depends on your gender. Infected men are more likely to encounter symptoms than women. Gonorrhea symptoms are very similar to the symptoms caused by other STIs (for example discharge and a burning sensation when peeing).
The majority of infected women won’t suffer from any symptoms but the infection can cause great damage to the reproductive system and lead to infertility, miscarriage and stillbirth. If you think you’ve been infected, you can order a gonorrhea test kit from our online doctor service. If you or your partner have already been diagnosed, you can order a gonorrhea treatment from us.
Certain strains of the gonorrhea infection have become resistant to some antibiotics. The recommended best treatment for gonorrhea is therefore by injection of antibiotics at your local GUM (sexual health) clinic.
Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease that can potentially affect any membrane of your body – from the genitals to the rectum and the eyes. The infection is transmitted during vaginal, anal and oral sex, but infected mothers can also pass the infection on to their babies during childbirth. The STI is most common in people between the ages of 15-30, who are sexually active and have more than one partner a year. Make sure you use a condom every time you have sex to avoid unnecessary risks. If you’re in a monogamous relationship, you should make sure that both of you have been screened for STIs before having unprotected sex. A short antibiotic course can clear the infection very quickly, so don’t hesitate to get tested and treated to avoid complications (such as infertility and the infection spreading to other parts of the body) in the future.
Like many other STIs, gonorrhea often doesn’t cause any symptoms, especially in women. It can be difficult to recognise the infection, as some of the symptoms can easily go unnoticed. Half of the women who do develop gonorrhea symptoms (about 30% to 50% of patients) have abnormal vaginal discharge and one in four encounters pain in the lower abdomen. Less common symptoms of gonorrhoea include pain when urinating, heavier periods or spotting. The vaginal discharge may also have an unusual appearance, it may be watery or creamy, look similar to blood or even slightly green.
These symptoms in women can go unnoticed or be mistaken for another type of infection – such as a common yeast infection, which can be treated with over-the-counter medication. However, an abnormal vaginal discharge can be the sign of a variety of conditions and infections (including other STIs), so it’s important to seek medical help and identify the cause.
About 90% of men with gonorrhea have symptoms, which makes it easier to identify the infection. The first symptoms may appear about a week after transmission of the disease and usually involve an infection of the urethra, which causes pain when urinating (or a burning sensation when peeing).
Other possible symptoms include a white or cloudy discharge from the penis, an irritation inside the penis and an urge to urinate more frequently than usual. While the gonorrhea symptoms may go away after a few weeks, the infection remains in your system and can cause further damage to your urethra or other parts of your body. Less common symptoms of gonorrhea in men include pain in the testicles, and possibly anal pain or discomfort if the infection spreads to the rectum (the same applies to female patients).
In very rare cases, the infection can spread to your joints and tendons (arthritis), causing pain and difficulty moving – particularly if the knee is infected. If the infection continues to spread, it can cause skin rash (on the chest, palms, limbs) as well as flu-like symptoms (such as. fever and chills).
Although the first symptoms typically appear in the first two weeks following infection, they can also appear months later. In cases where the infection has spread to other parts of the body, it can in take several years before the patient notices the first symptoms.
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You'll complete a short online health assessment and choose the medication you need. If you're unsure, our in-house GPs can also recommend the best treatment for you.
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