The gonorrhea epidemic continues; infected people may not show symptoms
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As a local gonorrhea epidemic continues, public health officials are warning people who have unprotected sex to get tested.
“Since more than 50% of men and women will have no symptoms of gonorrhea, you may not know you have the infection unless you get tested,” said the Hastings-Prince medical officer of health. Edward, Dr. Piotr Oglaza, in a press release. .
Gonorrhea and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can, when left untreated, lead to “serious complications, such as long-term illnesses, infections and infertility,” he added. .
“Untreated gonorrhea can actually lead to pelvic inflammatory disease in women,” said Stephanie McFaul, manager of the sexual health and harm reduction unit last summer.
It can also cause scarring and a higher risk of ectopic or tubal pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancies can be life threatening, McFaul said.
“Infection in a newborn baby, if left untreated, can lead to blindness.”
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Men can experience infertility or scarring in the vas deferens.
Still, the infection is curable with antibiotic pills and an injection, McFaul said.
Symptoms of gonorrhea may include a smelly discharge from the vagina, penis, or rectum (white or yellow discharge in women; yellow or green in men); burning or itching sensations in the sex organs, such as when urinating; pain in the lower abdomen during intercourse, for women; and a sore throat or swollen glands
The health unit declared the epidemic in June 2020. That year there were 79 cases – an increase of about 200% from the previous five-year average of 39 cases per year, the health unit reported. .
Twenty-five more have been reported this year and those infected vary in age, relationship status and sexual orientation, the statement noted.
“If you’ve had sex without a condom / unprotected, have a new partner, or have more than one partner, get tested,” he said. Even those who have only one partner should be tested.
“To reduce your risk, know the status of your partners and use the protection. If you are not sure about the STI status of your partner or yours, get tested, ”Oglaza said.
Gonorrhea can be transmitted through unprotected oral, vaginal and anal sex with an infected person or through sex toys.
However, the health unit does not offer screening. The statement explained that resources had instead been directed towards responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The tests are however available from primary care providers and may also be available at walk-in clinics. If you don’t have a primary care provider, contact a walk-in clinic to discuss options.
More information on STIs is available from the health unit at 613-966-5500 ext. 243.