It is especially important for gonorrhea infections in women to be detected and treated promptly. Due to the more complex nature of their reproductive systems, women are at risk for additional complications unless they recognize and take action against the symptoms of this common sexually transmitted disease.
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Remember that gonorrhea has an incubation period. The bacteria will not mature for up to 14 days after the initial infection. During this period, both men and women will show no symptoms. When symptoms are present, they usually appear within 2 to 30 days of the completion of the incubation period.
View any vaginal discharges with extreme suspicion. Discharges caused by gonorrhea are easy to recognize. They will be white, yellow or green in color and will have a viscous, pus-like consistency that distinctly differentiates them from other types of discharges. You should seek the advice of a doctor immediately if you experience such a symptom.
Be aware that difficult or painful urination is another hallmark symptom of gonorrhea infection. Remember, though, that many medical conditions can cause urination abnormalities. Regardless, it is wise to speak to a doctor if you experience this.
Make an appointment with your doctor immediately if you experience any bleeding following sexual intercourse, or if you bleed outside your menstrual cycle. Both can be symptoms of gonorrhea infection, as the bacteria compromises the strength of your vaginal walls.
Discuss any instances of pus infections around your cervix with a doctor at once. They commonly, but do not necessarily, accompany gonorrhea infection.
Understand that more advanced symptoms of untreated gonorrhea in women include fever, vomiting, nausea, severe menstrual-like cramps and genital pain.
Keep in mind that untreated gonorrhea can lead to severe complications. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) can often develop, carrying the risk of scarring women's fallopian tubes and damaging the reproductive system. This can result in ectopic pregnancy and other pregnancy complications. It is also possible for a mother to pass on her gonorrhea infection to her unborn child.
Know that, if left unchecked, gonorrhea can spread to other sites in the body, including the heart and brain. While generally not life-threatening, such spread of the infection can cause severe complications in both men and women.
Tips and warnings
- Gonorrhea frequently shows no symptoms for up to 1 year following initial infection. To prevent re-infecting other partners and to mitigate the possibility of long-term complications of the disease, be tested for it regularly. Even if you show no symptoms, you may be infected if you are sexually active.