Gonorrhea

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Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by bacteria called Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Infections are easily transmitted between people through vaginal, anal, or oral sexual contact. The bacteria can infect the cervix, urethra, rectum, and/or less commonly known the throat or eyes. Ongoing research investigates the performance of the Colli-Pee™ in the detection and screening of Gonorrhea.

 

Symptoms of Gonorrhea

Around 1 in 10 men, and around half of infected women do not experience any symptoms during their Gonorrhea infection. Symptoms for Gonorrhea can include thick, green or yellow discharge from the vagina (women) or penil (men).

Symptoms of Gonorrhea for men

  • Pain when urinating
  • Inflammation of foreskin
  • Unusual discharge from the tip of the penis
  • Pain in testicles

Symptoms of Gonorrhea for women

  • Pain when urinating
  • Bleeding in between periods or heavier periods
  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Pain in the abdominal area

 

Prevention of Gonorrhea

Like most STIs, Gonorrhea can be prevented by using appropriate contraception such as a condom during sexual contact. A condom offers good protection against Gonorrhea, since the bacterium (Neisseria gonorrhoeae) is present in vaginal or penile discharge.

Next to primary prevention, screening can increase STI detection rate and prevent further infection in asymptomatic cases. Screening is especially important for high-risk groups, including young sexually active people (<25years), sex workers, and MSM (men having sex with men) (1). The Colli-Pee™ can significantly improve these types of screening programs. With Colli-Pee™, the collection of first-void urine is assured, making the urine sample more reliable for both female and male patients. The first-void urine collector is also easy-to-use. Home-based sampling can reduce feelings of shame connected to Gonorrhea testing and urine collection in the doctor's office. With Colli-Pee™, urine samples can be obtained in the home environment.

 

Detection of Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea can be detected by the examination of a swab specimen (from the cervix for women or from the urethra for men) taken by the clinician, self-collected vaginal swabs, or of voided urine. The urine sample for detection of Gonorrhea has to consist of first-void urine (the first part of the urine stream), as this part of the urine stream contains more DNA particles than other parts, making detection of Gonorrhea more sensitive.

 

Treatment of Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is treated with antibiotics. The patient's partner - even if he/she is not infected with Gonorrhea - should be treated simultaneously (2).

 

Consequences of Gonorrhea

If left untreated, Gonorrhea can have serious complications for both men and women.

In women, Gonorrhea can spread to reproductive organs and cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). This occurs in 10-20% of cases that are left untreated. Regarding pregnancy, Gonorrhea infections can cause ectopic pregnancy and infertility (3).

In men, Gonorrhea can cause a painful infection in the testicles and prostate gland, which may lead to reduced fertility in a small number of cases.

In rare cases, if left untreated, it can spread through the bloodstream and cause life-threatening infections (septicaemia) (4).

 

Novosanis' Research on Gonorrhea and the Colli-Pee™ device

Novosanis is currently collaborating with The Institute of Tropical Medicine (Antwerp, BE), to evaluate the Colli-Pee™ for STI testing in MSM (men having sex with men). Four STIs are detected in this study, being Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Mycoplasma Genitalium, and Trichomonas. Samples are taken at home and send to the laboratory using regular mail. Next to diagnostic sensitivity and specificity, usability and willingness to use are also assessed. Further research will be dedicated to e.g. STI testing in females.

References:

  1. Ann Fam Med, 2005. PMC1466867
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, website, 2016
  3. Schulz et al., Genitourin Med, 1987. PMID: 3679218
  4. NHS, website, 2016