What is it ?
Gonorrhoea (tona) is a common sexually transmitted infection that may cause lifelong complications such as infertility in women if not diagnosed and treated early.
It affects both men and women, however it may not cause any symptoms in women that makes it hard to trace. Gonorrhoea is one of the most common STIs in Fiji.
How Is It Spread?
Gonorrhoea is easily transmitted through sexual contact such as oral, anal or vaginal sex. Infection may occur in the urethra (in the penis), the cervix (in the vagina) and also the throat (during oral sex) or anus/rectum (during anal sex).
Gonorrhoea can also be passed from a woman to her baby during birth.
What are the Symptoms?
Approximately half the women and a third of men infected with Gonorrhoea show no symptoms, so you can be infected without knowing or feeling anything is wrong, that is why safe sex practices and getting tested is so important, because it can cause big complications down the track.
Common symptoms include;
- Milky yellow pus-like fluid/discharging from the penis (Or urethra â€“ the tube through which urine passes from the body)
- Pain when urinating/peeing
- Bad smell from the penis
- Painful, bloody pus from the rectum
Common symptoms include;
- Yellow discharge/fluid from the vagina
- Burning sensation in the genitals when urinating/peeing
- Unusual small
- Pain in the lower abdominal area
- Pain during sex
Oral and anal gonorrhoea often occurs without any signs or symptoms. Gonorrhoea in the throat may cause a sore throat, however, it usually occurs without symptoms as well.
What Are The Risks?
If left untreated, the infection may spread to the reproductive organs causing Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). This may cause scarring of reproductive organs that can lead to infertility problems.
Symptoms of PID include;
- Lower abdominal pain and tenderness
- Deep pain during sexual intercourse
- Heavy and painful periods
Women who have PID need to be very careful with Gonorrhoea, because the risk of infertility increases with each instance of inflammation.
If a pregnant woman gets infected with gonorrhoea and it is not treated, then the baby may be infected during birth. Infection in babies usually enters through the eyes. If untreated, the child could end up having serious eye problems, which can result in blindness.
How is it diagnosed?
Swabs are taken from the urethra, throat, cervix and/or rectum and are sent to a laboratory for testing.
How is Gonorrhoea treated?
Gonorrhoea can be simply and effectively treated with antibiotics prescribed by your doctor. To ensure the infection is cured, the full treatment must be completed, so even if you are feeling better, you must take all the antibiotics prescribed.
It is important to tell your nurse or doctor if you have any drug allergies when discussing treatment with them.
Any current or past sex partners should also promptly be tested and treated. It is important that you and your partner(s) do not have unprotected sex until all treatment is completed.
If you have been exposed to Gonorrhoea, it is recommended that you also have a blood test to check for other infection such as HIV, syphilis and Hepatitis B that you might have also been exposed to.
How Do I Prevent Gonorrhoea?
There are some important steps you can take to reduce your risk of gonorrhoea;
- Use condoms each and every time you have sex. Condoms or â€˜barrier protectionâ€™ are the best method of protection from gonorrhoea.
- Being faithful to one partner can protect you from gonorrhoea, if you only have sex with each other.
- If you are sexually active, it is a good idea to have regular medical check-ups and get tested for STIs.
If you have gonorrhea, it is your responsibility to let all your sexual partners from at least the past six months know so that they can be tested and treated if needed.
Itâ€™s important to avoid sex until youâ€™ve finished your full course of treatment and for at least a week following. If you canâ€™t do this then a condom absolutely must be used.
Using a condom
When using a condom, it is important to ensure you use it correctly for it to offer proper protection. You should;
- Open the packet carefully so that you donâ€™t tear the condom.
- Pinch the tip of the condom before carefully rolling it down the entire shaft of the erect penis.
- Do not use spit, Vaseline, baby oil or other oil-based lubricants.
- Use water-based lubricants, such as KY or Wet Stuff. (Available in Pharmacies)
- Withdraw the penis before the erection is lost, so that the condom does not fall off. Hold the base of the condom to prevent spills.
- Store condoms in a cool, dry place and check the expiry date before using.
- Condoms should only be used once. A new one should be used each time you have sex.
I want to know more
You can find out more from the following places;
Northern Reproductive Health Clinic
â€˜Our Spotâ€™ ( Northern Hub Center)
Ratu Raobe Building,
P: 881 2525
Naviti Street Sexual and Reproductive Health Clinic (Western Hub Centre)
P: 664 0243
Reproductive Health Clinic (Suva Hub)
P: 331 9144
STI Clinic/Adolescent Health Development (AHD) Program
Rodwell Rd, (Old Government Pharmacy),
Any Government Health Centre. You can locate your nearest centre here
Source: Ministry of Health