What are the consequences of untreated gonorrhea?

Untreated gonorrhea can lead to serious medical complications for men and women, including infertility. The more advanced a case of gonorrhea has become in a patient, the more likely the patient is to experience significant complications. Because gonorrhea doesn't always cause symptoms, it's a good idea for sexually active people to get screened for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) to identify infections like gonorrhea early so they can be treated before they cause symptoms. serious problems. A course of antibiotics is usually enough to kill the organisms that cause this infection.

One of the most common results of untreated gonorrhea in women is a condition called pelvic inflammatory disease, caused by chronic, widespread inflammation of the pelvic structures. This condition can cause painful menstruation, miscarriage, infertility, and ectopic pregnancies, where a fertilized egg implants in the fallopian tube instead of the uterus. Men may experience similar swelling of the prostate, urethra, and other structures around the genitals.

It is also possible for gonorrhea to travel through the body in the bloodstream. Patients can experience a rare condition called perihepatitis, where the sac around the liver becomes inflamed. They can also develop disseminated gonococcal infection (DGI), also known as gonococcal arthritis, where the infection spreads to structures such as the joints, heart, and brain. These conditions can cause potentially fatal complications for the patient.

Patients with untreated gonorrhea are also at increased risk of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. The organisms can also infect the eye, causing conjunctivitis and other problems. In pregnant women, it is possible for babies to get gonorrhea during delivery. This can lead to blindness and the risk of DGI in the baby. Prophylactic care can be given during labor and delivery to reduce the risks of passing gonorrhea to the child.

Once complications from untreated gonorrhea set in, it can be much more difficult to treat. Although antibiotics can kill organisms in the body, the damage caused by inflammation and infection is not as easy to repair. Patients may experience chronic health problems, including infertility. Being proactive about your sexual health can greatly reduce your risk of developing permanent medical complications from untreated gonorrhea by contracting the infection before it has a chance to spread. Safer sex practices will also help limit your chances of getting sexually transmitted infections in the first place. This is important, as not all STIs can be treated as easily as gonorrhea.

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