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Gonorrhoea

Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by bacteria called Neisseria Gonorrhoeae. Gonorrhoea is easily passed on from one person to another through unprotected sex (sex without a condom).

Symptoms

Around 1 in 10 infected men and almost half of infected women don't experience any symptoms of gonorrhoea. The symptoms of gonorrhoea usually develop within two weeks of being infected, although they sometimes don't appear until many months later.

Symptoms in women

  • an unusual vaginal discharge, which may be thin or watery and green or yellow in colour
  • pain or a burning sensation when passing urine
  • pain or tenderness in the lower abdominal area (this is less common)
  • bleeding between periods, heavier periods and bleeding after sex (this is 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)

Other symptoms

If you have gonorrhoea in the rectum it may cause anal pain, discomfort or discharge. An infection in the throat usually has no symptoms. Gonorrhoea infection in the eyes can cause pain, swelling, irritation and discharge.

Testing

The only way to find out if you have gonorrhoea is to be tested. Testing is free, easy and confidential.

We recommend that each time you change your sexual partner you get tested, even if you are using condoms. We strongly advise taking a test if you are aware that a previous sexual partner may have had the infection.

Testing in our clinics is usually by urine or self-taken vaginal swab. If positive, we will book you in for treatment and additional testing to ensure the medication is effective for you.

If you are a man who has sex with men (MSM), rectal and oral testing is also recommend depending on your sexual practice and is available from all of our clinics.

Aged 16 or over?

An easier way of being tested if you are aged 16 or over is to request a free STI postal test kit online. The kit is sent in discreet packaging to an address of your choice. When the kit arrives all you need to do is take a simple urine test or a self-taken swab for women and post it back to us for testing. We text your test result back to you within 7 days. All kits come with all the equipment you need, easy to follow instructions and a freepost envelope to post your sample(s) back to us.

If you would like testing at clinic or have any of the above symptoms:

*Our walk-in and wait clinics offer limited slots and operate on a first come first served basis. When clinics are at full capacity, patients asking to be seen will be triaged and those who fit our urgent criteria will be a priority. At busy times we may need to signpost non-urgent cases to other clinics or recommend patients make an appointment for an alternative day or suggest a return visit.

 

Treatment

If your test is positive we will contact you via your chosen method of communication, usually a text, asking you to call our clinic. Following a discussion with you we will make an appointment for you to attend one of our 5 clinic venues.

Gonorrhoea is usually treated with a single antibiotic injection and oral antibiotic tablets. With effective treatment, most of your symptoms should improve within a few days.

We 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're clear of infection.

It's important that your current partner and any other recent partners are also tested and treated. You should avoid having sex until you've been given the all-clear.

Prevention

You can prevent gonorrhoea and other STIs by:

  • using male condoms or female condoms every time you have vaginal sex or male condoms during anal sex
  • using a condom to cover the penis or a latex or plastic square (dam) to cover the female genitals, if you have oral sex
  • not sharing sex toys or washing them and covering them with a new condom before anyone else uses them

More information

Visit NHS Choices - gonorrhoea

Download Family Planning Association’s Looking after your sexual health - gonorrhoea