What is gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is a common STD that is caused by bacteria that thrive in the female and male genital tracts. It is spread through contact with the penis, vagina, mouth, and anus[1]. Ejaculation by the male partner doesn't have to occur for transmission to take place.

Approximately 700,000 new cases of gonorrhea occur each year, and the biggest group affected is sexually active teenagers. Although some men have no symptoms when they get gonorrhea, other men experience burning while urinating, penile discharge, and tender testicles.

The best protection from gonorrhea, other than abstinence or being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship, is a latex condom.

Women who contract gonorrhea typically notice a vaginal discharge, a burning sensation while urinating, or irregular bleeding. However, these symptoms may not appear until the infection has spread considerably. Both sexes also may experience anal pain.

Gonorrhea is a common cause of pelvic inflammatory disease, an infection in the upper genital region that can cause a woman to become infertile. Gonorrhea can cause fallopian tube damage and pelvic abscesses[2], which, in turn, can lead to chronic pelvic pain[3] and an increased risk of an ectopic pregnancy[4].

Screening for gonorrhea is recommended for all sexually active females until the age of 25, and for any woman older than that who has a new sexual partner. This can be done with a simple test in the doctor's office. Moreover, gonorrhea usually can be easily treated with a course of antibiotics. (However, there has been an increasing problem with antibiotic-resistant strains of gonorrhea.) The best protection from gonorrhea, other than abstinence or being in a long-term mutually monogamous[5] relationship, is a latex condom.

What is genital herpes?

Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus, type 1 and type 2. The herpes simplex type 1 virus is a very common infection; it is usually found in the mouth and is the cause of the cold sores and fever blisters you see on people's lips.

Most of the genital herpes infections are caused by the herpes simplex type 2 virus. It is found in the genital region. Interestingly, recent reports show an increase in type 1 herpes on the genital region in women who have oral sex[6] performed on them by an infected partner.

With the first outbreak, a herpes infection typically results in painful blisters that later become painful sores that may last for weeks. Later outbreaks are usually not as severe and typically decrease in frequency over time.

Genital herpes is very common. It affects approximately 45 million Americans aged 12 or older. It's possible for an infected person who has no symptoms to transmit an infection to a partner because the skin in the infected region can still shed the virus. While normally not dangerous in a person with a normal immune system, genital herpes can cause physical pain and, of course, significant psychological distress. An infection is life-long. There is no cure. However there are medications that can help suppress outbreaks, diminish the symptoms, and reduce transmission to partners.

To reduce the risk of infection, latex condoms are a must. Further, it's important not to have any type of sexual contact during an outbreak. And finally, your daughter should be aware that there is a small risk of pregnant women transmitting the herpes virus to their babies during labor.

  • [1] The opening of the rectum to the outside of the body.
  • [2] A localized area of pus in the pelvic region.
  • [3] Persistent pelvic pain that is not alleviated by usual means. Certain disorders such as endometriosis, fibroids, cysts, and pelvic adhesions can often be the cause of chronic pelvic pain, but in many cases, no cause is found.
  • [4] A pregnancy that occurs outside of the uterine cavity. Sites can include fallopian tubes, ovaries, the cervix, and the abdomen.
  • [5] Being in a relationship between two people with no other partners.
  • [6] A sexual act involving oral stimulation of the genital area.
< Prev   CONTENTS   Next >