What is Gonorrhoea?
Gonorrhoea is a bacterial infection which can be transmitted by all types of sexual contact, vaginal, anal, oral sex or sharing sex toys. It’s very infectious and is easily passed on. Gonorrhoea used to be known as ‘the clap’.
What are the symptoms (signs) of gonorrhoea?
Around 1 in 10 men, and half of all infected women, will get no symptoms of gonorrhoea.
The first noticeable symptoms of gonorrhoea usually appear two or three weeks after infection and can include:
- Unusual green, white or yellow discharge from the penis or vagina
- Pain or a burning sensation when peeing
- Pain or tenderness in the testicles for men or the lower abdomen for women
- Discomfort, pain or discharge from the bum (rectum) from anal sex
- Swelling of the foreskin in men
- Irritation, swelling or discharge from the eyes if they come into contact with infected semen or vaginal fluid
Gonorrhoea can also infect your throat through oral sex, although this doesn’t usually cause any noticeable symptoms.
If gonorrhoea isn’t treated early it can cause complications that can lead to infertility such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women or infection in the testicles in men. It can also spread into the bloodstream and cause significant illness, often with a painful rash seen on the palms of the hands.
You will still be infected even if you don’t have symptoms, or if your symptoms have disappeared, and you can still pass the infection on.
Treatment for Gonorrhoea
Gonorrhoea is usually treated with an antibiotic injection and a course of antibiotic tablets. Symptoms will usually improve within a few days although it may take longer for any pain to disappear completely.
What should I do if I think I have Gonorrhoea?
You may have gonorrhoea if you have had unprotected sex with someone who has the infection. The only way to find out is to book an appointment at one of our Devon Sexual Health clinics and get tested. Gonorrhoea is tested for by taking a swab from the penis, vagina or bum (rectum), as well as a urine sample for men. The results will usually be available in one to two weeks, with positive results coming back after a few days. The staff at our clinics are incredibly friendly and kind so there is no need to worry about visiting. Waiting times can vary, so it is usually best to book an appointment in advance.
Gonorrhoea is very infectious so it’s really important that anyone you have had sexual contact with is aware that they need to get tested. We can help you with this by contacting them but keeping your name anonymous or you can do this yourself.
You need to avoid any type of sexual contact until your treatment has finished and you have been retested to check the treatment has worked. Even if you use a condom, there is still a risk of infecting someone.
How can I avoid getting Gonorrhoea?
Wear a condom during any sexual activity including vaginal, anal or oral sex. This isn’t 100% effective, but it’s the best way of avoiding an infection. Use a dental dam or a condom during oral sex. Wash sex toys or cover them with a condom and replace it between partners. Also, talk to your partner about their sexual history. When did they last have unprotected sex? When did they last have a test for STIs?