Gonorrhoea is caused by a bacteria called gonococcus or Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Gonorrhoea used to be known as “the clap”.

The bacteria can infect the entrance to a woman’s womb, the rectum, the tube that passes urine out of the body, and in rare cases, the throat or eyes.

Gonorrhoea can be passed from mother to child at childbirth. Without treatment, a baby who has Gonorrhoea could go permanently blind.

Gonorrhoea is passed between people through.

  • Unprotected vaginal or anal sex
  • Unprotected oral sex
  • Sharing sex toys
  • From mother to baby during birth (can cause blindness to baby)

Because the bacteria can go undetected, it is easily passed between people without knowing it. 

The greater the number of sexual partners you have, the higher the risk that you can catch the infection.

Women who have untreated gonorrhoea could develop Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), and if serious enough, this can result in infertility and ectopic pregnancy.

  • From kissing 
  • Hugging
  • Swimming pools
  • Toilet seats
  • Sharing baths
  • Towels
  • Cups
  • Plates, cutlery or utensils

The Gonorrhoea bacteria can not survive long outside the human body.

Symptoms show up in men more than women, but either sex are carriers of the infection.

Many people with the infection will not notice any symptoms, the bacteria can be passed from person to person without even knowing it.

Typical symptoms are:

In men

  • Thick yellow or green discharge from penis
  • Pain when peeing
  • Rash on head on penis
  • Discomfort and swelling of testicles

In women

  • Thick yellow or green discharge from the vagina
  • Pain when peeing
  • Bleeding when not on periods or after sex.
  • Irregular or heavy periods

Gonorrhoea can in some cases also infect the eyes, throat or anus. Pain or discharge can also be experienced in these areas. 

If you have Gonorrhoea during pregnancy it can result in premature birth, i.e. giving birth to the baby early. 

Gonorrhoea can also be passed from mother to baby at childbirth and if left untreated can result in a severe eye infection in the baby and in extreme cases permanent blindness.

To get tested you should visit a sexual health clinic or your doctor.

Getting tested for Gonorrhoea involves collecting a sample, a swap, with a cotton bud from areas of the body that may be infected. This doesn’t cause any pain.

In men, the infection can also be tested by taking a small amount of urine.

Some clinics can carry out rapid tests for Gonorrhoea, the doctor will view the sample that you gave through a microscope and give you your test results immediately.

Gonorrhoea can be treated with antibiotics, either from an injection or as a pill. If you are breastfeeding you should tell your doctor as this will make a difference to the type of antibiotic you are given.

The more sexual partners you have the higher the risk of becoming infected. The best prevention is to practice safer sex, this means using condoms for vaginal, anal or oral sex.

Myth: Getting tested for an STI is embarrassing

Getting tested for an STI shows you are responsible and take your health seriously, something to be proud of.

Had unprotected sex?

If you have had unprotected sex this puts you at risk of catching a sexually transmitted infection.

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