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Gonorrhea (STD) in the Elderly


Although sexually transmitted infections are not often associated with seniors, as sexually active adults they are just as much at risk of contracting these diseases as younger adults. Gonorrhea is a sexual transmitted disease of bacterial origin. The causative organism is Neisseria gonorrheae. The disease is primarily an infection of the urethra – the narrow tube that carries urine out of the bladder. The disease generally manifests as burning sensation upon urination and pain in pelvic region. Gonorrhea is also known commonly  as the ‘clap’.

Signs and Symptoms

Gonorrhea is a common sexually transmitted infection. The disease affects both males and females. However, the symptoms of gonorrhea differ among the sexes. The symptoms become visible between four to six after sexual intercourse with an infected person.

In case of males, the first symptom to develop is urethral discharge. The discharge can be pus-like in nature. Burning sensation, pain during urination and urethral etching are also commonly experienced.

In females the disease may go unnoticed as it is asymptomatic in many cases. The symptomatic disease in females presents with redness and erosion of the cervix and vaginal discharge. Difficulty in urination and discomfort on sexual intercourse may also be experienced. Lower abdominal pain is also very common in an infection with gonorrhea. Untreated lesions may develop in to pelvic inflammatory disease and may lead to infertility.

The symptoms of gonorrhea is not limited to the genitalia. If contracted by performing oral sex, gonorrhea may cause lesions on the lips and around it, in the mouth and even a throat infection. In rare cases gonorrhea may causes joint pain, skin infection and infective endocarditis.

Causes of Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease. It is more commonly seen in sexually active teenagers and young adults but can also affect the elderly. Some seniors may have contracted the disease earlier in life. The infection is transmitted from one person to another through any form of sexual contact. Lack of using protective barriers such as condoms, increases the chances of transmission of disease. The occurrence of disease is higher in homosexual males.

Treatment and Prevention

The management consists of two stages – treating the affected person and preventing further spread of the disease. Ampicillin with probenecid is an effective antibiotic prescribed for gonorrheal infection. As many of the gonorrheal bacteria strains have developed drug resistance, an antibiotic-sensitivity culture is advised before the treatment. Generally resistance is developed against penicillin and tetracycline drugs. The drugs currently used to treat gonorrheal infection are cefixime, ceftriaxone in combination with azithromycin and doxycycline. The other drugs used are ciprofloxacin and ofloxacin.

The prevention of the disease includes checking the affected person’s sexual history and treating the partners. Sexual intercourse is to be avoided in the disease span, which is around two weeks after getting infected. Use of siotable protection is advisable in people who are sexually active. Early treatment is necessary to prevent complications, particularly those involving the joints in elderly sufferers. These complications can worsen existing problems like rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and these symptoms may sometimes not be identified as being part of gonorrhea.


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