What is gonorrhea?

(1) What is it and how is it transmitted?

Gonorrhea is an infection caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It is the second most common bacterial sexually transmitted and blood-borne infection (STBBI) in Quebec. It is possible to contract it more than once in a lifetime. It can be transmitted through secretions from the mouth, anus, penis, or vagina during sexual activity with an infected person. This includes through oral, anal, and vaginal sex, nonpenetrative genital contact, and sharing sex toys. There is also a risk of transmission during childbirth.

(2) Possible symptoms

Very often, there are no symptoms. A person can therefore be infected without knowing it. In the case of penile infection, there is usually discharge or discomfort during urination.

Throat: inflammation of the throat (pharyngitis).

Genitals: genital itching, abnormal genital discharge, abnormal vaginal bleeding, pain during urination and sexual activity, rectal itching, burning, and discharge, and testicular pain and swelling.

(3) Complications when left undetected and untreated

Persistent abdominal pain, pain and infection in the testicles or prostate, infertility in people with uteruses, and risk of ectopic pregnancy. If left untreated, gonorrhea can also infect the bloodstream and cause joint damage (septic arthritis) or even meningitis.

(4) Screening

Screening for gonorrhea involves taking a urine sample or a sample from sites exposed during sexual activity (anus, vagina, or throat).

(5) Treatment

Treating gonorrhea is easy (a course of antibiotics, the duration of which varies according to the site of infection) and is covered by RAMQ for the infected person and their partners.

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