What is Gonorrhoea?

Gonorrhoea is an infectious disease caused by bacteria called Neisseria gonorrhoea. It can be painful and can cause serious health problems such as infertility in both men and women. Gonorrhoea is a bacterium that can grow easily in the warm, moist areas of a female’s reproductive system including the cervix, uterus and fallopian tubes. It also grows in the urethra, mouth, throat, eyes and anus of both males and females.

How common is Gonorrhoea?

Gonorrhoea is the second most common bacterial STI in the UK. Young men and women are affected most – the highest rates of gonorrhoea are seen in women aged 16-19 and men aged 20-24.

How is Gonorrhoea passed on?

Gonorrhoea is transmitted through unprotected sex, including vaginal, anal and oral sex, and also by sharing sex toys that have not been covered or washed. Gonorrhoea can still be passed on via fluids even if the man does not ejaculate. Infected mothers can also transmit gonorrhoea to their baby during birth, which can cause inflammation of the eyes.- although this can be easily treated with antibiotics.

What are the complications of Gonorrhoea?

Gonorrhoea can be treated with antibiotics, but like most STIs, other complications result from long term untreated/repeated infections. Gonorrhoea can lead to infertility and pelvic inflammatory disease.

What are the Symptoms in Gonorrhoea?

Approximately 1 in 10 men and almost half of all women infected by the bacteria will show no symptoms, and so are unaware of their infection.

Symptoms of gonorrhoea usually appear within one week of being infected. However, symptoms may not appear until many months later, or until it spreads to other parts of the body.

Symptoms of gonorrhoea in men:

  • Discharge from the penis which might be white, yellow or green
  • Pain when urinating
  • Swelling of the foreskin
  • Discomfort and swelling of the testicles

Symptoms of gonorrhoea in women:

  • Discharge from the vagina which may be thick and green, or yellow in colour
  • Pain and/or bleeding during or after sex
  • Pain when urinating
  • Bleeding between periods, or heavier periods
  • Pain or tenderness in the lower abdominal area

How long does it take for symptoms of gonorrhoea to appear?

Symptoms will not always appear with gonorrhoea. If you do get symptoms they will usually show up 1–14 days after becoming infected. However, it can be many months later, or not until the infection spreads to other parts of your body.

What happens if gonorrhoea is left untreated?

If gonorrhoea is treated early enough it is rare that there are any long-term problems. However, without effective treatment the infection can spread to other parts of the body. The more times you have gonorrhoea the more likely you are to get complications.

In Males

  • Epididymitis – painful inflammation of the testicles, which may result in reduced fertility or sterility
  • Inflammation of the joints and tendons
  • Skin lesions
  • Inflammation of the membranes of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and the heart

In Females

  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
  • Ectopic pregnancy – a pregnancy outside the womb
  • Salpingitis – blocked fallopian tubes (the tubes which carry the egg from the ovaries to the womb), which decreases fertility and increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy
  • Infertility
  • Long-term pelvic pain
  • Inflammation of the joints and tendons
  • Skin lesions
  • Inflammation of the membranes of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and the heart

Can I be cured of gonorrhoea?

Gonorrhoea is treated with a single dose of antibiotics. However, lab studies from the USA show that cephalsporins, the current class of antibiotics used to treat gonorrhoea, are becoming less effective at treating the disease.

How often do you need to test for gonorrhoea?

Gonorrhoea is highly prevalent and anyone who is sexually active is susceptible. If you have had unprotected sex, testing is highly recommended. Regular testing is beneficial to ensure you are free from any infections, especially as gonorrhoea does not always show symptoms. A comprehensive STI screen is recommended once a year or with every change of sexual partner.

Who is at risk of gonorrhoea?

All sexually active individuals are at risk of gonorrhoea, although it is most common in 15-30 year olds. In order to reduce the risk of gonorrhoea, practice safe sex by using a condom every time you have sex.

Where can I get a test for gonorrhoea?

At YourHealthfiirst tests for 10 STIs at the same time, including gonorrhoea.

How reliable is the gonorrhoea test?

Gonorrhoea is included as one of the ten STIs that YHF Clinic offers tests for simultaneously. Our tests is a cutting-edge testing procedure that uses molecular diagnostics that far exceed other STI tests currently available. The test screens for multiple STI pathogens to identify specific viral, protozoan or bacterial pathogens.

How is gonorrhoea treated

Gonorrhoea is treated with antibiotics, usually by injection, but can also be in pill form. Many forms of gonorrhoea have become resistant to antibiotics, such as penicillin. Some types of antibiotics cannot be used. Treatment for gonorrhoea should be given quickly to avoid the risk of further complications. You should abstain from having sex until your treatment has been completed. If your results are positive, contact your GP for treatment.