Chances are you’ve heard of gonorrhea (sometimes called “the clap”), but how much do you really know about it? Gonorrhea is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a bacteria.
Women, in particular, should be aware of the symptoms, as they can often be subtle. However, there’s nothing subtle about the impact of gonorrhea on your health if the disease remains untreated.
The good news is that board-certified OB/GYN Daniel S. Kushner, MD, and his team specialize in diagnosing and treating STIs, like gonorrhea, at his private practice in White Plains and Queens, New York.
Here, we explore five potential signs of gonorrhea in women that you should know.
1. Unusual discharge
If you're noticing unusual vaginal discharge, especially if it’s yellow or greenish, it could be a symptom of gonorrhea. Your body is constantly changing, and it's not uncommon for there to be variations in vaginal discharge. However, a noticeable, persistent change might be a signal that something's off.
Left untreated, gonorrhea can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), a serious infection of the female reproductive organs that can cause infertility, so be sure to talk to your provider about this symptom.
2. Painful urination
Experiencing a burning sensation or pain when urinating isn't normal and can be very uncomfortable. This symptom, also linked with urinary tract infections, might be a sign of gonorrhea in women. Ignoring this symptom can result in complications that affect your urinary and reproductive systems.
3. Lower abdominal or pelvic pain
Gonorrhea often presents as lower abdominal or pelvic pain in women. If you're experiencing this, particularly if it's combined with other symptoms, it could be a sign of this STI.
You should never ignore this kind of discomfort — especially when it persists or is severe. Because persistent lower abdominal or pelvic pain could indicate an advanced gonorrhea infection or even PID, don’t wait to seek medical treatment.
4. Irregular bleeding
While menstrual cycles can be irregular for various reasons, you should know that gonorrhea can cause changes to your period. This means spotting or heavier periods than usual could be a potential sign of this infection.
Although changes in your period are not a surefire indication of gonorrhea, it's crucial to pay attention and seek medical advice if you notice sudden changes, especially when combined with other symptoms.
5. Painful sex
Pain during sexual intercourse can be a sign of several conditions, including gonorrhea. If you experience persistent pain during or after sex, consult with a health care provider. In the case of gonorrhea, early detection and treatment can help avoid serious health issues, including chronic pelvic pain and ectopic pregnancy.
What should I do if I’m worried about gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea is not a condition to take lightly because it can have severe consequences if left untreated. But there's good news: Gonorrhea is curable with the right treatment. Dr. Kushner specializes in women's health and can test for and treat gonorrhea.
The most common treatment for gonorrhea is a dual therapy modality. This usually involves an injection of an antibiotic along with a course of oral medication. With the right treatment and follow-up care, you’ll be back to your healthy self in no time!
Regular screenings and early detection are your best defense against the potential complications of all STIs. Remember, it's not just about treating an infection; it's about maintaining your overall health.
Take steps to protect your health. Schedule an appointment online or over the phone to get tested for gonorrhea and other STIs — and to receive treatment if necessary — with Dr. Kushner at his New York office nearest you.