Spring Break and Gonorrhea (GC)

Spring Break should be a fun respite from the stress of college. It’s a time to relax with your friends and unwind from a hard semester of studying, but it’s also time to continue making smart choices. According to a study published in the Journal of American College Health1, the average male reported consuming 18 alcoholic drinks a day and females had an average of 10 alcoholic drinks per day while on Spring Break. Excessive alcohol consumption has been repeatedly linked to unprotected sex, unplanned sexual activity and sexual/physical assaults2.  Being in an altered state makes it harder to make smart decisions about your body and your health.

It is important for sexually active individuals to be educated on sexually transmitted diseases (STD).   Did you know Montana’s rates of GC are on the rise? At the current rate, the total number of cases for 2015 will exceed the 2014 cased by 60%. The graph below indicates GC cases by county for 2013-2014. Keep in mind there are other STD’s out there such as chlamydia, syphilis, hepatitis B, HIV and genital herpes that are not included in this chart.

Spring Break and Gonorrhea

What is gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that can be transmitted through oral, anal, or vaginal sex with an infected partner.

 

How do I know if I have gonorrhea?
Many men and women do not have any symptoms with gonorrhea and continue to spread it to their sexual partners. Some symptoms could include:

    • A burning sensation when urinating;
    • Increased discharge from the vagina, discharge from the penis.
    • Vaginal bleeding between periods or painful/swollen testicles

 

Testing/ Treatment?
Most of the time, urine can be used to test for gonorrhea. However, if you have had oral and/or anal sex, swabs may be used to collect samples from your throat and/or rectum. Treatment involves the use of antibiotics and it is important to take the medication as prescribed to cure your infection. If your symptoms continue for more than a few days after receiving treatment, you should return to a health care provider to be checked again due to drug resistant gonorrhea.

 

What happens if I don’t get treated?
Untreated gonorrhea can cause serious and permanent health problems in both women and men. It can lead to infertility in men and women and in rare cases the infection can spread to your blood or joints.

Have fun and wear a condom!

 

References:

  1. George L. Smeaton PhD , Bharath M. Josiam MS & Uta C. Dietrich MS (1998) College Students’ Binge Drinking at a Beach-Front Destination During Spring Break, Journal of American College Health, 46:6, 247-254, DOI: 10.1080/07448489809596000
  2. Wechsler H. Binge drinking on America’s college campuses. Cambridge: Harvard School of Public Health, 2001
  3. Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. Montana Communicable Disease Epidemiology Program. Montana Gonrrhea Update– February, 27, 2015.
  4. CDC Gonorrhea Fact Sheet available at http://www.cdc.gov/std/gonorrhea/stdfact-gonorrhea.htm.   Retrieved on March 3, 2015

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