Gonorrhoea – What you need to know

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Your Sexual Health offer a wide range of private STD tests at clinic locations across the UK and via home visits. One of the conditions that we can diagnose is gonorrhoea and if you’ve had unprotected sex with someone who has it then you could be at risk. Gonorrhoea has a range of unpleasant symptoms including genital discharge and is one of the most common STIs in the UK.

To help you find out more about the condition, Your Sexual Health’s Dr Rashid Bani has created this information resource so that you can make an informed decision on whether you think you might need a gonorrhoea test.

What is gonorrhoea?

Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted infection that is caused by the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria, also known as gonococcus. The condition was formerly known as ‘The clap’ and many people still call it by its old name, although it’s not clear how this name originated.

The condition is especially prevalent in both men and women aged between 15 and 24 years old and if you’ve had sex with someone who is infected then you could be at risk. Symptoms of the disease include vaginal or penile discharge although the only way to know that you have the condition is by getting tested.

Gonorrhoea is treated with antibiotics, however if left untreated it can cause complications to pregnancy as well as a range of other long term health issues, including pelvic inflammatory disease and possible infertility.

Gonorrhoea symptoms

Symptoms of gonorrhoea differ between men and women, however one in ten infected men don’t exhibit any symptoms, whilst half of all women who have the condition don’t experience any symptoms.

Symptoms in women

The symptoms of gonorrhoea in women include: –

  • An unusual vaginal discharge, green or yellowy in colour and is thin or watery
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Tenderness in the lower abdomen
  • A less common symptom is bleeding between periods, heavier periods or bleeding after sex

Symptoms in Men

The symptoms in men include: –

  • Discharge at the tip of the penis, which may be white, green or yellow
  • Pain and burning sensation during urination
  • Inflamed foreskin
  • Pain in the testicles, although this is a rare symptom

How common is gonorrhoea?

Gonorhoea is the second most common bacterial STI in the UK after chlamydia and anyone who is sexually active can catch the condition. There were 35,000 cases reported in England during 2014 and the majority of these were young men and women who were under the age of 25.

How can you catch gonorrhoea?

Gonorrhoea is passed between people with the spread of the gonococcus bacteria.  The bacteria is mainly contained in vaginal fluid or in discharge from the penis and can be passed from an infected person by having unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex. You can also get the condition by sharing vibrators or other sex toys that haven’t been washed or protected with a clean condom between uses.

How to protect yourself from gonorrhoea?

Anyone who is sexually active is at risk of contracting gonorrhoea, however there are ways of significantly reducing your risk of catching the STI. These include: –

  • Using male condoms or female condoms during vaginal sex and using male condoms during anal sex
  • Using a condom to cover the penis during oral sex or a latex plastic square to cover the female genitals
  • Not sharing sex toys
  • If you do share sex toys you should cover it with a new condom after each person uses it

What tests are available for gonorrhoea?

There are a range of private STI tests available which can detect gonorrhoea, including individual tests which diagnose one condition and profile tests which can diagnose a range of conditions at the same time. The gonorrhoea test is grouped with chlamydia and uses a urine sample to give you accurate laboratory results using the latest PCR detection methods.

All private STI tests from Your Sexual Health are available at a range of clinic locations across the country where you simply book an appointment that suits you and turn up to deposit your sample. We also offer postal tests in which we post containers to your door for you to deposit your sample and return it to our labs in a prepaid envelope or home visits in which our mobile clinicians visit an address that suits you.

How do you treat gonorrhoea?

Although the symptoms of gonorrhoea can be quite unpleasant, it is treated using antibiotics. In most cases the treatment is an antibiotic injection in the buttocks or thigh followed by a single dose of an oral antibiotic. It may be possible to have two antibiotic tablets in some instances rather than an injection.

The symptoms will usually improve within a few days, although it may take up to two weeks for any pain that you experienced in the pelvic area to disappear. You’ll usually have to have another STI test two weeks later to ensure that the condition is clear. You should refrain from having sex, either protected or unprotected until you know that you are clear.

Any sexual partners that you’ve had should also be notified so that they can get tested as they are at risk of having the condition.

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Did you know?

There were 35,000 cases of gonorrhoea in England during 2014 with the majority occuring amongst people under 25.

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