Gonorrhea is an infection caused by the Gonococcus bacterium. In men, it is marked by a thick, white discharge from the penis and a burning pain when urinating.
In women, gonorrhea may infect the cervix. There may be mild pain and a discharge. If the urethra is infected, there may be a burning sensation during urination. However, women's symptoms are most often mild or simply unnoticeable. Even so, it is important to treat the infection because gonorrhea can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease.
When gonorrhea is transmitted during anal or oral sex, painful infection of the rectum or throat may occur in both men and women.
Infection by the Chlamydia tracheotomy bacterium is the leading cause of nongonococcal urethritis in men. This condition consists of pain or burning during urination, a thin discharge from the penis, and staining on underwear. Chlamydiae infection may also inflame the sperm-collecting tubules in the scrotum and eventually cause sterility. A man infected with chlamydia may be infected simultaneously with Urea plasma urealyticum, which also causes urethritis.
In women, a chlamydial infection may cause a thin vaginal discharge, pain during urination, or pain in the lower abdomen about 10 to 20 days after exposure. However, women often do not notice any early symptoms. Chlamydia may also lead to pelvic inflammatory disease.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries and usually results from either gonorrhea or chlamydia infection.
The disease typically develops in two stages. First the infection attacks the cervix (the lower part of the uterus). It then spreads to the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. Sometimes PID starts directly within the uterus when germs gain entry following childbirth, abortion, or the insertion of an intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD). This, however, is rare.
Since PID causes scar tissue to form, there is up to a 25 percent risk of infertility. PID is also the single most common cause of tubal pregnancy, in which a fertilized egg begins to grow while still in the fallopian tube, instead of the uterus. If the tube bursts, the woman could die.
Genital warts (condyloma) are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) and look much like other warts. They usually occur near the tip of the penis in men. In women, the warts appear on the vulva, in the vagina, on the cervix of the uterus, or near the anus.
Genital warts are flat, hard, and painless when they first appear. If allowed to grow, however, they develop a "cauliflower" appearance and hurt when pressed. Genital warts tend to get bigger during pregnancy. In rare instances, very large warts may interfere with childbirth, making a cesarean section necessary.
There are several types of HPV. Some types can cause precancerous cell changes in the tissues of a woman's vulva, anus, cervix, or vagina. An invasive cervical cancer can be fatal, which is why women with genital warts should have a Pap test at least once a year.