Chlamydia is a sexually-transmitted infection (STI) caused by the Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria. It often doesn’t produce symptoms, but can sometimes cause an abnormal genital discharge and pain during sex or urination.…
- Gonorrhoea is a common sexually-transmitted infection.
- Gonorrhoea often does not cause any symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they include pain, itching, swelling, spotting or bleeding from the infected areas - usually the genitals.
- It is important to tell your sexual partner(s) if you are diagnosed with gonorrhoea, to prevent spreading the infection.
- Gonorrhoea is treated with a course of antibiotic medication.
- You can lower the risk of getting gonorrhoea by practising safe sex and having regular sexual health checks.
What is gonorrhoea?
Gonorrhoea, also known as 'The Clap', is a common bacterial, sexually-transmitted infection. It can affect anyone who is sexually active. Gonorrhoea can infect the genital tract, throat, and rectum, depending on sexual practices, such as oral or anal sex.
Gonorrhoea is caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria. It is transmitted during unprotected oral, vaginal, or anal sex. You cannot catch gonorrhoea from objects, such as a toilet seat.
Risk factors for gonorrhoea include:
- Being sexually active;
- Having new or multiple sexual partners;
- Previous sexually-transmitted infections;
- Having a sexual partner who recently had a sexually-transmitted infection, and;
- Not practising safe sex, including during oral sex.
Signs and symptoms
Gonorrhoea often does not cause any symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they can include:
- Penile or vaginal discharge;
- Pain during urination;
- Vaginal spotting or bleeding;
- Sore throat, if there is a throat infection from oral sex;
- Anal itching or discharge, and;
- Pain and swelling in the testicles.
Methods for diagnosis
Gonorrhoea is diagnosed by tests on a urine sample, or a swab sample from the cervix in women or the urethra in men. Your doctor will usually also test for other sexually-transmitted infections, such as chlamydia and syphilis, because it is common for them to occur together with gonorrhoea.
Types of treatment
Gonorrhoea is treated with antibiotics. It is important that you finish the entire course of antibiotics, even after your symptoms disappear, otherwise the infection may return.
If you have gonorrhoea, or any other sexually-transmitted infection, it is important to tell your sexual partner(s), so they can also be diagnosed. Abstaining from sex until after completing treatment can help to prevent the spread of infection to new sexual partners.
When gonorrhoea is left untreated, complications can include:
- Infection of the joints, such as arthritis;
- In women, if gonorrhoea spreads to the uterus and fallopian tubes, it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, which can result in infertility, or increase the risk of an ectopic pregnancy;
- In men, inflammation of the epididymis can cause infertility, and;
- Increased risk of HIV infection - inflammation of the genital tract can more easily allow infection, if your sexual partner(s) have HIV/AIDS.
Pregnant women with gonorrhoea can also pass the infection to their baby during childbirth. This can cause an eye infection which, if left untreated, can sometimes lead to blindness. In addition, if left untreated, the baby may develop joint infection, or other serious complications.
You can lower the risk of getting gonorrhoea by practising safe sex (using condoms) and having regular sexual health checks.