One of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is gonorrhea, an illness that impacts both men and women alike and is especially prevalent among individuals between the ages of 15 and 24. After the bacterium is transmitted from one person to another through unprotected sexual contact of any kind, the subsequent illness causes infections in various parts of the body, including the genitals and throat, though the symptoms vary between men and women. The former is likely to experience a burning sensation while urinating or a discharge from the penis; the latter is likely to experience increased vaginal discharge and bleeding between menstrual periods, if she experiences any symptoms at all, as many women are asymptomatic. Rectal infections caused by gonorrhea can be asymptomatic, or they can present in profound ways, including, but not limited to, anal itching, bleeding, or painful bowel movements. All told, just over 1.1 million new infections of gonorrhea are diagnosed in the United States each year.
Unlike some other STIs, gonorrhea can be cured when a treatment regimen is followed precisely and for its prescribed duration. If the disease is allowed to go untreated and permanent damage results, such as scar tissue blocking fallopian tubes or infertility in men, this may be more difficult to treat and/or effectively cure. Currently, the treatment plan for a gonorrhea diagnosis involves the use of what is known as dual therapy, or using two different drugs to address different components of the infection. Unfortunately, this is becoming increasingly difficult as antimicrobial resistance in the gonorrhea bacterium is becoming more and more common. While the only certain way to avoid a gonorrheal infection is through abstinence from all sexual activity, the use of latex condoms, frequent testing for STIs, and limiting the number of sexual partners one has can all contribute to dramatically reducing the overall risk.