A simple screening
Gonorrhea is the second most common bacterial STI diagnosed in Canada. As the number of reported cases grows, gonorrhea is quickly becoming a worldwide health concern. Gonorrhea is far from being a new affliction as historical data attests to its presence in human population, although it has often been confused with syphilis in pre-modern medicine. Neisseria gonorrhea is named after Albert Neisser, a physician who isolated the bacteria at the end of the nineteenth century. Commonly called ‘’the clap’’, gonorrhea can lead to serious health risk when left untreated.
Did you know?
- The term gonorrhea comes from the Greek term gonos (seed, or seminal fluid) and rhoia (flux). Gonorrhea thus refers to the urethral discharge observed in afflicted men.
- The bacteria causing gonorrhea adapts quickly to antibiotic treatments. Several countries including Canada have declared resistant strains to all antibiotics in use today.
- In the same bacteria family as Neisseria gonorrhea, we also find Neisseria meningitidis, the most frequent cause of bacterial meningitis.
Gonorrhea is transmitted mainly by unprotected vaginal or anal penetration or by oral sex. Men frequently complain of a pus-like discharge associated with painful urination. Women can experience abnormal bleeding, discharge and painful intercourse. Gonorrhea, like chlamydia, can cause a severe pelvic infection and may lead to infertility. Symptoms are not automatically present in every case however, and one can easily be infected without being aware of it.
Screening and Treatment
During a routine screening, it is common for gonorrhea and chlamydia to be tested jointly. A vaginal swab is collected for women and a urine sample is used for men. Gonorrhea can affect many body parts such as the urethra, the cervix, the anus or even the throat. While undergoing your screening, you may discuss with your nurse or doctor which test is right for you.
When positive results are found, the infection is treated with an antibiotics. It is important to then inform your partner(s) and to abstain from unprotected sexual contacts until the end of your treatment, where a follow up test will ensure the infection is entirely gone.
When gonorrhea is treated in a timely manner, no long term consequences are to be expected. In routine screenings where a patient shows no symptoms, the test should ideally be scheduled at least three weeks after a contact that might have been at risk. Modern techniques however can catch positive results as soon as three days after infection.