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STD Awareness Month: Gonorrhea is here to stay

by Gina Colonette, sexual health blogger


As STD Awareness Month continues, I hope you all are taking the opportunity to get tested. Why? Because STDs, like gonorrhea, greatly affect people in our age group—and having it is no fun.

It’s estimated that more than 700,000 people are infected with gonorrhea each year in the U.S, but less than half are reported to the CDC. That’s significantly more than the other popular STD, chlamydia, which had 63,882 reported case in 2009.

Women between the ages of 15 and 24 have the highest rate of gonorrhea infections. Right behind them are men ages 15-24.

Gonorrhea is spread like many other STDs, through contact with the penis, mouth, vagina or anus.
Some men don’t get symptoms at all. For those that do the symptoms may include:

  • Burning sensation while urinating.
  • White, yellow or green discharge from the penis.
  • Painful or swollen testicles.

Most women also do not have symptoms. When symptoms do occur they’re often mistaken for bladder or vaginal infections. Symptoms can include:

  • Pain or a burning sensation when you urinate.
  • Increased vaginal discharge.
  • Vaginal bleeding between periods.

Infections in the rectum may not cause any symptoms in men or women. And don’t forget you can get gonorrhea in your throat. If you feel a sore throat coming on, you may have an infection there too.

If you think you  have gonorrhea, get tested right away. Gonorrhea can be diagnosed by testing the different body parts that may be infected, like the cervix, rectum or urethra. A urine sample will be taken if you have gonorrhea in your cervix or urethra.

For men, a Gram stain sample from the urethra can be taken. The bacterium can be detected under a microscope.

Gonorrhea has been easily treatable by using antibiotics, but that may not be true for much longer. According to PBS.org, gonorrhea is becoming resistant against the medications that are first in line and cheapest. Choosing the correct antibiotic to treat gonorrhea can be difficult because of gonorrhea’s versatility. Once penicillin was used to treat gonorrhea, but it’s now ineffective.

You won’t have to worry about treatment if you practice consistent prevention methods. That means, use a condom correctly every time you have sex or sexual contact. You can get tested at SU’s Health Services. The price varies. If you prefer to go off campus go to Onondaga County Health Department’s Sexually Transmitted Disease Clinic. Their services are free!

Let’s keep the celebration going this month by being safe, STD-free and getting tested!

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