Don’t pay much attention to your sexual health? It’s about time you change that—particularly since many people actually show no symptoms though they have a sexually transmitted infection (STI). And if you have a new sexual partner, multiple sexual partners or just don’t have good sexual hygiene, it’d probably be a really good idea to get yourself tested.

One of the most common STIs among women is gonorrhea. It’s easily transmittable via penetrative and oral sex, and can cause infections in the vagina, rectum and throat. But just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s nbd.

What are the symptoms of gonorrhea?

According to Dr Michelle Chia, a resident physician at DTAP Clinic Group, women with a gonorrhea infection may experience symptoms such as abnormal vaginal discharge, pain while passing urine, lower abdominal pain and unusual pain in the cervix or lower abdomen during sex. And those aren’t even the worst bits.

“Depending on the nature of the sexual activity and the severity of the infection, they may also experience pain, itchiness or discharge from the anus,” says Dr Chia. She adds that there may be swelling, irritation, or discharge from an eye or both eyes too.

But that’s not to say that it’s easy to tell when one has gonorrhea. It’s not. 

Gonorrhea can show no symptoms. In fact, it’s a silent infection in most of the population,” she points out.

Can gonorrhea be treated?

The good news is, gonorrhea can be flushed out of your system. As with most bacterial infections, it can be treated with antibiotics.

“The first choice of antibiotics would be a wide spectrum one like Ceftriaxone,” says Dr Chia. “However, the infection has been proving to be more and more resistant to antibiotics.”

She adds that gonorrhea may also be challenging to treat because most people who have this STI tend to have other sexually transmitted illnesses such as chlamydia.

“It’s important that treatment is extended to all sexual partners. Once treatment is completed, routine testing should be carried out due to the increasing resistant nature of the gonorrhea bacteria.”

And no, the infection isn’t going to go away on it’s own, so don’t even think about leaving it alone in the hopes that it’ll somehow dissipate. Untreated gonorrhea can spread throughout the body, giving rise to skin pustules, infection of the joints, brain or heart valves.”

“It can not only cause subfertility [delay in conceiving], but also cause pelvic inflammatory disease in up to 20 percent of female patients,” warns Dr Chia.

“With inflammation, scarring and/or multiple infections, issues of subfertility and extra-uterine pregnancy will arise. There may also be chronic pelvic pain that is characteristically stubborn and may require multiple analgesic medications.”