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Gonorrhoea

Gonorrhoea, a bacterial infection caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae, is one of the commoner sexually transmitted diseases: about one person in 1000 contracts it each year. It usually affects the urethra in men and the urethra and cervix in women. The rectum and throat may also be affected. It can also infect the eyes, especially those of infants born to infected mothers, unless precautions are taken.

Symptoms

The symptoms in heterosexual men, which appear within about a week or two of the infection being contracted, are a discharge of pus from the penis, and pain and burning on urination. The symptoms usually lead the sufferer to seek prompt medical treatment, but in about five to ten per cent of cases there are no symptoms at first, but the infection may progress to cause painful swelling of the epididymis. In homosexual men there may be a discharge of pus from the anus and pain during bowel movements.

As many as half of all infected women may have no symptoms. In the remainder there may be a slight vaginal discharge, and, less commonly, pain on urination. Rectal infection may occur in women even if anal intercourse has not taken place. Since a woman with gonorrhoea may not seek treatment because she has no symptoms, there is a risk that the infection will spread up the reproductive tract from the cervix to the fallopian tubes, and eventually cause sterility.

Treatment

Gonorrhoea is treated with antibiotics. It is important not to have any sexual contact until the infection has been successfully treated.

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