Complications of Gonorrhoea

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If gonorrhoea is left untreated then there can be quite serious consequences for both men and women. These differ between the sexes but can cause some serious health issues either at present or in the future, especially if the bacteria have entered the blood stream as this means they can spread to other parts of the body. These complications are usually quite rare but they can occur without treatment of the infection.

Both genders can have the following complications:

  • Joint problems – this is where the bacteria have gotten into the blood stream and travelled to the joints causing inflammation at the areas. If this happens it can lead to long-term illnesses such as arthritis.  However, this is a very rare complication.
  • HIV – there is a increased risk of contracting HIV if you are infected with gonorrhoea, as you are susceptible to other infections.
  • Heart problems – The valves of the heart can also be affected just like the joints of the body are which has serious consequences as the valves are weakened.
  • Eye infections – Newborns especially get eye infections if their mother has gonorrhoea. This infection can lead to blindness in the child if untreated.

What are the complications for women?

As the infection affects the reproductive tract, there are serious consequences for women if gonorrhoea remains untreated such as:

  • Pelvic Inflammatory disease- this is a major complication that can lead to ongoing problems after treatment of the bacterial infection.  It is estimated that 1-2 women out of 10 women will get PID after contracting Gonorrhoea. It affects the fallopian tubes causing them to scar after the menstrual period. This can cause infertility and ectopic pregnancies in the future. Usually women need to be hospitalised in order to treat the disease. The chance of infertility is particularly damaging news for young women who have yet to start a family and their dreams for the future may be destroyed.  
  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • Inflamed Bartholin glands- this causes general discomfort and pain.
  • Abscesses can occur in the reproductive tract.
  • If you are pregnant when you have contracted the infection, there is a chance you could pass it on to your unborn child.

What are the complications for men?

  • Epididymitis – This is a complication whereby the ducts get attached to the testicles of the male causing a lot of pain and it can also lead to infertility.
  • Scarring of the urethral tube is also an issue, which can cause problems in the future with urination.
  • Inflammation of the seminal vesicles may occur – a condition which is known as seminal vesiculitus
  • Acute Prostatitis is another complication caused by the bacteria and it is essentially a bacterial infection of the prostate gland.
  • Abscesses in the reproductive area may appear which are also painful.
  • There is a higher risk of bladder cancer.

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