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Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted disease caused by a gram negative diplococcus Neisseria gonorrhoeae (1)
- it is an uncomplicated infection of the lower genital tract
- undetected or inadequately treated disease may result in complicated infection of the upper genital tract (uncommon in UK) e.g. - prostatitis or epididymitis in men and salpingitis or pelvic inflammatory disease in women (2)
- primary sites of infection include - urethra, endocervix, rectum, pharynx and conjunctiva (1)
- the disease is transmitted by direct inoculation of infected secretions from one mucous membrane to another - genital-genital, genital-anorectal, oro-genital or oro-anal contact (3)
- most common form of transmission is from sexual contact
- non-sexual transmission can occur when an infected mother passes the infection to a newborn child, usually resulting in gonococcal conjunctivitis
Clinical features of the disease vary between genders.
- about 50% of females are asymptomatic whereas asymptomatic infection rarely
occurs in males
- due to this asymptomatic nature, complicated gonococcal infection is more
common in women than in men (2)
- common symptoms in women may include increased or altered vaginal discharge
and lower abdominal pain. It can also be a rare cause of heavy menstrual,
postcoital or intermenstrual bleeding due to cervicitis or endometritis (4)
Gonorrhoea is known to facilitate the acquisition and transmission of HIV (2).
Last reviewed 01/2018