Gonorrhoea or ‘the clap’ is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a type of bacteria. Infection usually occurs in the penis and anus but can also affect the throat and eyes. Untreated gonorrhoea poses a risk of passing the infection on to others and possible serious complications.
For men, untreated gonorrhoea may lead to infection in the testes, causing pain and swelling, and in some cases infertility.
You can catch gonorrhoea by having unprotected anal, oral or vaginal sex, rimming, fingering or sharing sex toys. Find out how to prevent it.
Gonorrhoea is becoming much more common and you or your most recent partner could have picked up the infection from a previous partner without even knowing it. The more sexual partners you have, the more chance you have of being infected. Ejaculation does not need to happen for the infection to be passed on.
Even without symptoms, gonorrhoea can still be passed on to others and cause painful problems and infertility, so it is important to get tested even if you think you don’t have something.
If you do notice the symptoms of gonorrhoea, they will usually show up between 1 to 14 days after coming into contact with the infection. In most cases, women are less likely to have symptoms than men.
If symptoms are present, these usually include:
Testing for gonorrhoea is simple and painless.
You will be asked to give a urine sample and you will have a swab of your throat and anus. Sometimes a swab of the penis may also be taken.
Gonorrhoea infections are easily treated with a course of antibiotics – usually consisting of one injection into the bum muscle and a single dose of tablets. Some gonorrhoea is becoming resistant to antibiotics. This can make it more difficult to treat.
Sometimes you will be treated straight away, without waiting for the result of a gonorrhoea test, for example if your partner is known to have an infection or if you have symptoms.
You will be advised not to have sex, even with condoms, until 2 weeks after you (and your partner) have finished the treatment and you have no symptoms. You will be asked to return for another test after your treatment to confirm you have cleared the infection.