If gonorrhea is allowed to develop untreated, it may lead to serious consequences for both women and men. It usually has different outcomes for each sex, but nevertheless gonorrhea complications can be very dangerous, especially if the bacteria enter the bloodstream. After that, bacteria may easily spread to other sites in the body. Fortunately, this is uncommon, but if untreated, gonococcal infection increases the risk significantly.
Problems with joints – if bacteria enter the bloodstream through the joints, it may cause inflammation of the affected areas. If this happens, it can lead to permanent complications, such as chronic gout. Fortunately, this is a very rare complication.
HIV – though there is not enough scientific proof, gonococcal infection may actually increase the risk of getting HIV.
Heart problems – heart valves may also be affected in the same way as the joints. This can lead to a serious condition if the heart valves become weakened.
Eye infections – newborn babies are especially prone to eye infection if the mother has a gonorrhea infection. Eye infection can cause permanent blindness, if not treated quickly.
Gonorrhea Complications for Women
When the gonococcal infection spreads toward the reproductive tract and is allowed to develop untreated, it can lead to serious consequences in women:
- Pelvic inflammation – this is a serious complication that can lead to even more problems later on. It is estimated that 10-20% of all women who get gonorrhea infection, eventually develop the pelvic inflammatory disease. This disease causes scarring of the fallopian tube and may lead to ectopic pregnancy in the future. Usually this complication requires treatment at the hospital, yet chances of infertility are still great. This can be a huge blow to young women who have not yet started their families.
- Chronic pain in the pelvis and lower abdomen.
- Inflammation of the Bartholin’s gland (responsible for secretion during sex to lubricate the vagina) – this often leads to pain and discomfort.
- Discharge from the genitals.
- If you are pregnant when you’ve got the infection, there is a risk that you can transfer it to the unborn child.
Gonorrhea Complications for Men
- Epididymitis – this is a state where epididymis swells and adheres to the vas deferens. This is very painful and can lead to fever, and, at worst, infertility.
- Scarring of the urethra can cause problems with urination.
- Inflammation of the spermatic cord.
- Acute prostatitis (chronic pelvic pain syndrome) is another complication that is caused by gonorrhea and is a bacterial infection of the prostate gland.
- Discharge in the reproductive area may also occur, which is painful.
- There is an increased risk of bladder cancer.
By detecting symptoms of gonorrhea at an early stage, you will reduce the risk of serious complications considerably. There are many infected persons who live normal lives without knowing about gonococcal infection and do not get treatment for too long. This can be avoided by regularly testing for STDs, either at the doctor’s office or at home. This should also be done every time you have changed your partner. It is recommended that you test for gonorrhea regularly if you belong to one of the risk groups for gonorrhea. By testing regularly, you prevent from infecting others and yourself. Gonorrhea is a very contagious sexually transmitted infection, which is healed only with proper treatment.