What is Gonorrhoea?
Gonorrhea is a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) caused by bacteria called gonococcus.
More than 25,000 cases were reported in England during 2012, with most cases affecting young men and women under the age of 25.
It can lead to serious long-term health problems if it's not treated, including pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women, or infertility (cannot have a baby).
Symptoms of gonorrhoea
Symptoms usually develop within about 10 days of being infected, although they sometimes may not appear until many months later.
About 1 in 10 infected men and half of infected women will not experience any symptoms, which means the condition can go untreated for some time.
Symptoms in women
- an unusual vaginal discharge, which may be thick and green or yellow
- pain or a burning sensation when passing urine
- pain or tenderness in the lower abdominal area (less common)
- bleeding between periods,
- heavier periods and bleeding after sex (less common)
Symptoms in men
- an unusual discharge from the tip of the penis, which may be white, yellow or green
- pain or a burning sensation when urinating
- inflammation (swelling) of the foreskin
- pain or tenderness in the testicles (this is rare)
Infection in the rectum, throat and eyes
Both men and women can also develop an infection in the rectum, eyes or throat by having unprotected anal or oral sex. If infected semen or vaginal fluid comes into contact with the eyes, you can also develop conjunctivitis, which causes redness and inflammation of the thin layer of tissue that covers the front of the eye.
If you have any of the symptoms of gonorrhoea or you are worried you may have an STI due to unprotected sex (sex without a condom) please get tested at the Integrated Sexual Health Service.
Gonorrhoea can be easily diagnosed by testing a sample of discharge using a swab or a sample of urine.
Gonorrhoea is usually treated with a single antibiotic injection and a single antibiotic tablet. With effective treatment, most of your symptoms should improve within a few days.
It's usually recommended that you attend a follow-up appointment a week or two after treatment so another test can be carried out to see if you are clear of infection.
You should avoid having sex until you have been given the all-clear.
Preventing the spread of Gonorrhoea
- using male condoms or female condoms every time you have vaginal sex, or male condoms during anal sex - if you are 25 or under you can get free condoms from the c-card. You can get them from the Integrated Sexual Health Service at any age.
- using a condom to cover the penis, or a latex or plastic square (dam) to cover the female genitals, if you have oral sex. The C-card and the Integrated Sexual Health Service also provide dental dams.
- not sharing sex toys, or washing them and covering them with a new condom before they are used
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