Sometimes called ‘the clap’, gonorrhoea is an STI caused by bacteria that can be transmitted through any type of unprotected sexual activity. Similar to Chlamydia, many people with gonorrhoea will not know they have it, and up to 10% of men and 50% of women will experience no symptoms at all…(STDs, also known as STIs) can affect people of all ages and can be transferred by any unprotected sexual activity, including sharing unwashed sex toys. Alarmingly, the number of people affected by these conditions is continuing to increase in the UK.

For this reason, it is important to get checked with the local GP or sexual health clinic if you suspect an STI or after having unprotected sex with a new partner. In many cases, however, there are some warning signs to look out for.

Signs you may have Gonorrhoea:

  • Pain or a burning sensation when passing urine
  • In men; pus-like white, green or yellowish discharge from the end of the penis
  • In men; painful, tender, swollen foreskin and/or testicles
  • In women; unusual discharge from the vagina – this may be green/yellow or thin and watery.
  • In women; pain or tenderness in the lower tummy or heavy or irregular periods.
  • The feeling of incompleteness after passing stools, and/or irritation and discharge from the back passage if this is infected (more commonly in in those who engage in anal sex).


Untreated, gonorrhoea can lead to many unpleasant complications, including decreased fertility and rashes, as well as joint and vision problems, and can even be passed from mothers to new-born babies.

Fortunately, the treatment for gonorrhoea is mostly simple and effective, and in many cases it is easier to give the treatment even before any positive test results come back.

However, Gonorrhoea can be much harder to treat, and in some cases in the UK antibiotics have stopped working due to resistance of the bacteria to treatments, which means it is becoming more worrying now than in the past.

An injection of an antibiotic called ceftriaxone is usually given, or in some cases through a swallowed tablet called cefixime is required, then followed by the treatment for chlamydia (see above). This is because these two diseases often infect people at the same time.

You will usually have follow up about 2 weeks after treatment to be tested again for gonorrhoea to make sure the bacteria is fully eradicated before having sex again, and it is important to contact any previous partners to warn them they may be at risk so that they can get tested. This can often be done anonymously through a sexual health clinic or GP.

Prevention is better than cure!

As you’ve read, symptoms can be unpleasant and sometimes very hard to treat and also lead to all sorts of complications. In STDs, as with all diseases, preventing is certainly better than having to deal with the symptoms.

The most popular and effective way of protecting yourself from these two STDs is through using barrier protection methods – such as condoms, which will prevent the transmission of both chlamydia and gonorrhoea as well as reducing the chances of unwanted pregnancy and also prevent other STDs such as HIV and Syphilis when used properly.

You can find more information about a variety of illnesses and their treatments on The Doctor Service website.

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