Here's some encouraging news from the CDC for a change. The latest government report on sexually transmitted diseases reveals that gonorrhea in the United States has plummeted to an all-time low. According to the CDC, gonorrhea has dropped to 301,000 cases which is the lowest rate recorded since reporting first began in 1941.
That’s something to cheer about for many reasons, but especially when you consider other sexually transmitted disease took an opposite turn. Chlamydia and syphilis infections have continued to increase.
Every year there are roughly 19 million new cases of STDs. Chlamydia climbed to a record high of 1.2 million cases. The increase could be due to more and better screening, so naturally more cases will be diagnosed.
But despite better screening methods for all STDs, gonorrhea is not as prevalent as it once was. If you’d like to know more about this diminishing STD, here are the facts.Gonorrhea facts.
Often known as “the clap,” gonorrhea is a common sexually transmitted disease. 75% of cases fall to people between the ages of 15 and 29. Women age 15 to 19 and men age 20 to 24 are more risk of contracting the disease.
Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae, which is a bacterium that thrives in the reproductive tract. Warm moist areas such as the cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes as well as the throat, mouth, and anus are perfect breeding grounds for the bacteria.
As is the case with most sexually transmitted diseases, gonorrhea is spread through vaginal, oral, or anal sex. It can be transmitted with or without ejaculation.
The symptoms usually show up between 2 and 10 days after contact. Women are much more likely to be asymptomatic or not experience any symptoms at all as the infection first targets the cervix and moves up into the uterus and fallopian tubes. Fifty percent of women don't show any symptoms at all. Those that do show symptoms experience painful and frequent urination, a yellow or bloody vaginal discharge, bleeding between periods, fever, nausea or vomiting, or bleeding after sex or between periods.
The symptoms in men include a white, green or yellow discharge from the penis. There may be burning urination and swollen testicles. If the infection is anal the symptoms will include anal itching, painful bowel movements, a bloody stool, and a discharge. Detection is critical.
Detection is critical because untreated cases can lead to infertility. Women can also contract pelvic inflammatory disease. Prolonged infections can spread all over the body and contribute to joint inflammation as well as infect the heart and the brain.
Luckily, there is a definitive diagnosis available. The preferred method is a molecular test based on DNA amplification of the bacteria. These tests are highly specific and sensitive when compared to conventional bacterial cultures. For men, the physician will often choose a quicker method known as the Gram stain, which allows the doctors to see the presence of the bacteria under a microscope. However, this method doesn't work for women.
The most effective ways of preventing gonorrhea are abstinence or a monogamous relationship where both parties have been tested as gonorrhea free. In addition, consistent and correct condom use greatly reduces the risk of infection.
Perhaps by following these prevention measures, gonorrhea cases will continue to decrease or at least remain at the current record low levels.