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Gonorrhoea is a serious infection of the genital tract in both men and women, caused by a bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae, sometimes called the gonococcus.
Gonorrhoea is a notifiable condition1
Gonorrhoea is transmitted sexually, by oral, anal or genital sex.
Both men and women may have gonorrhoea without having any symptoms and so can be infected, or spread infection, without knowing anything is wrong. Some men never develop symptoms, but most do.
Symptoms that may occur in include:
Having any sexually transmitted infection (STI) increases the risk of HIV infection if you are exposed to HIV virus while the other infection is present.
In addition to the above, gonorrhoea in men causes urethritis (infection of the urethra, the urinary canal leading from the bladder to exit at the tip of the penis) causing:
In addition to the above, gonorrhoea in women usually affects the cervix (opening of the uterus at the top of the vagina) causing:
The infection may spread from the cervix to the Fallopian tubes (tubes leading from the ovaries to the uterus), causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Pelvic inflammatory disease due to gonorrhoea is often without symptoms, but there may be:
If untreated, pelvic inflammatory disease may lead to scarring of the Fallopian tubes and ectopic (tubal) pregnancy or infertility.
Diagnosis is made by microscopic examination and growth of bacteria from:
Newer molecular tests such as PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests on urine in a pathology laboratory may be used to screen people with no symptoms.
(time between becoming infected and developing symptoms)
1 to 10 days, sometimes longer.
(time during which an infected person can infect others)
Months if untreated.
Effective antibiotic treatment is available on prescription from a doctor. After treatment, a follow-up test may be needed to see if the infection has been cured.
Treatment is simple if given soon after infection. Infections may cause lifelong complications, particularly in women, if not diagnosed and treated early.
1 - In South Australia the law requires doctors and laboratories to report some infections or diseases to SA Health. These infections or diseases are commonly referred to as 'notifiable conditions'.