Sex may permeate our popular culture, but conversations about it are still associated with stigma and shame in Indian households. As a result, most individuals dealing with sexual health issues or trying to find information about sex often resort to unverified online sources or follow the unscientific advice of their friends.
To address the widespread misinformation about sex, News18.com is running this weekly sex column, titled ‘Let’s Talk Sex’. We hope to initiate conversations about sex through this column and address sexual health issues with scientific insight and nuance.
In this article, we will discuss the effects of gonorrhea on fertility, as well as what you can do to prevent infection.
Gonorrhea is a rather scary thing to think about. It is an illness that can cause serious complications if it is not taken care of promptly, and it can even lead to infertility in both men and women. But you don’t have to worry, there are steps you can take right now to help protect your fertility and make sure that you are healthy and safe.
What Is Gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea is a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) that can have serious long-term health consequences if left untreated. Simply put, Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that’s spread through unprotected sex or other intimate contact with an infected person. It can cause symptoms in men and women, with most people noticing a burning sensation when urinating or discharge from their genitals. Other symptoms may include itching or swelling near the genitals or anus.
It’s important to note that gonorrhea can be asymptomatic—meaning you may not experience any symptoms at all. That’s why regular testing is recommended for anyone who has had unprotected sex or any other kind of intimate contact with someone they don’t know to be infection-free.
Symptoms and Complications of Gonorrhea
Gonorrhea can lead to some unpleasant symptoms, and even more serious complications if it goes untreated. While it may vary from person to person, here are some of the most common signs and symptoms you should watch out for:
Painful urination: The main symptom of gonorrhea is pain when you pee. This might feel like burning or a sharp, shooting sensation. It could also be accompanied by an increase in frequency or urgency of your need to pee, as well as pus-like discharge from your urethra.
Unusual vaginal discharge: Women often notice an increase in vaginal discharge that’s yellowish-green in colour and has a strong odour. Other symptoms might include itching or burning around the vagina and painful sexual intercourse.
Inflammation of reproductive organs: In men, gonorrhea can cause inflammation of the epididymis (epididymitis), which is located at the back of your testicles. Symptoms include swelling and tenderness, as well as pain during ejaculation. Men might also experience a white or yellow discharge from the penis tip or rectum area.
In women, gonorrhea can lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), which is inflammation in the uterus, Fallopian tubes and other reproductive organs due to infection with bacteria like Neisseria gonorrhoeae. PID causes cramps, abdominal pain and fever, as well as unusual bleeding between periods.
What You Need to Know About Gonorrhea and Fertility
Here are a few things you need to know about how gonorrhea can affect your fertility:
It Can Lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID): PID is an infection of a woman’s reproductive organs and can cause infertility, chronic pelvic pain, and ectopic pregnancies.
It Can Damage Your Fallopian Tubes: If not treated early, gonorrhea can cause permanent damage to your fallopian tubes and make it difficult for an egg to travel down into the uterus for fertilization.
It Can Lead to Sterility: Untreated gonorrhea can result in obstruction in the fallopian tubes or other parts of the reproductive system which can lead to sterility or infertility in both men and women.
Treatment Options for Gonorrhea
When it comes to treating gonorrhea, the earlier you catch it, the better. Here are some common treatment options to consider right away:
- Antibiotics: Your doctor will likely recommend antibiotics or similar medications, depending on your specific condition. Antibiotics work to kill the bacteria causing the infection, so make sure you follow your doctor’s instructions carefully and take antibiotics as prescribed.
- Home Remedies: In addition to visiting a doctor, there are also home remedies you can try to help treat gonorrhea like oregano oil and tea tree oil for their antibiotic properties, as well as garlic for its antiviral properties. However, these home remedies should only be used when prescribed by a medical professional.
- Lifestyle Changes: There are ways of getting rid of gonorrhea through natural means like avoiding sexual contact, changing bedding and clothing regularly, taking warm baths with Epsom salt to reduce inflammation and drinking plenty of fluids like water or cranberry juice to flush out toxins from your body. Doing these things can help reduce symptoms and promote healing.
Tips on How to Prevent Against Gonorrhea and Protect Fertility
It’s possible to protect your fertility from gonorrhea if you take the right steps now. Here are some tips to get you started:
Practice safe sex: It’s essential to practice safe sex if you want to protect your fertility. Since gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease, the best way to prevent it is by using condoms and reducing your number of sexual partners.
Get tested regularly: The best way to catch gonorrhea early on is by getting tested regularly. If you don’t know your partner’s sexual history, it’s especially important that you get tested before engaging in any type of sexual activity with them.
Know the signs & symptoms: It’s also important to know the signs and symptoms of gonorrhea so that you can tell when something isn’t quite right with your body or your partner’s body.
If you think you have Gonorrhea, it’s important to seek medical help as soon as possible. If left untreated, your infection can progress, leading to infertility and more serious health problems. Unfortunately, Gonorrhea can spread from person to person even when you don’t have symptoms, which is why it’s important to get tested regularly. So don’t let gonorrhea take away your fertility; act now before it’s too late!
Prof (Dr) Saransh Jain is the winner of the Swasth Bharat Rattan Award and is a Certified and Licensed Sexologist by the American Board of Sexology. He is currently a Senior Consultant at Dr SK Jain’s Burlington Clinic in Lucknow. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the stand of this publication.
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