What is Gonorrhoea?

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?

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

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?

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?

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?

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Accessing our service during the COVID pandemic

How to access our service:

We have now implemented a telephone triage system for all of our clinics. This system will be in place for the duration of the pandemic. Please contact our services to access this triage system. Our central telephone number is 0300 303 3989.

If you are experiencing symptoms of Coronavirus please do not attend the clinic. Clear advice for people with symptoms of coronavirus is available at nhs.uk/coronavirus .

Advice from our service:

We have updated information on the provision of routine contraception during this pandemic here.

More details on the fitting of LARCs (coils and implants) at our service can be found here

If you need the combined contraceptive pill please try (if you can) to get updated measurements of your height, weight and blood pressure before calling us.

There is also specific advice on coronavirus available for People Living with HIV here, and for pregnant women here

Self-requested Sexual Health screening by post is available for for under 25s only - more info here

For others with testing requirements please contact the service on 0300 303 3989.

Alternative provision:

Please be aware that we may have to cancel, rearrange or shut clinical services in response to changing clinical and staffing pressures created by the Coronavirus pandemic. 

If you are struggling to access sexual health services, alternatives may be available:

  • Emergency Contraception - at your local pharmacy - more info
  • Contraceptive pills and LARC procedures - obtained from your GP
  • HIV postal testing - available to at-risk groups for a small fee -  more info
  • HIV PEPSE - available via A+E departments - more info
  • Condoms by post (for gay and bisexual men only) - more info