What you need to know

Gonorrhoea is the second most common bacterial sexually transmitted infection in the UK. It is easily treated with antibiotics but if left untreated, it can spread to other reproductive organs. Left untreated, gonorrhoea can have serious effects. In women, gonorrhoea can spread to the womb and fallopian tubes, causing blocked tubes, long term pain, infertility and ectopic pregnancy (when a pregnancy develops in the fallopian tube rather than in the womb). In men, untreated gonorrhoea can cause a painful infection in the testicles and prostate gland.

Signs and symptoms

10% of men and 80% of women have no symptoms.

You might notice:

  • A white, yellow, or green discharge from the tip of the penis
  • Pain when peeing
  • Pain or tenderness in the testicles

  • The need to go to pee more often
  • Pain when peeing or having sex
  • Lower abdominal pain (stomach)
  • Post coital bleeding (after sex)
  • Vaginal discharge (white, yellow or green)

Gonorrhoea in the eyes can cause redness and irritation. It can also cause inflammation of the joints and tendons and skin lesions, but this is less common. In very rare cases it can affect the brain and heart.


Testing and treatment

Gonorrhoea tests can be done by taking swabs from the penis, vagina, anus or throat, or by taking a urine sample in men. The sexual health clinic will recommend the best test for you depending on whether you have symptoms (and what they are), as well as the kind of sex you have.

Gonorrhoea can be treated with a course of antibiotics and it is important that you complete the course. Do tell a member of staff if you think you may be pregnant as this may affect the type of antibiotic given. Remember, using condoms every time you have vaginal, anal or oral sex will significantly reduce the risk of getting or passing on STIs including gonorrhoea. Condoms can be used for different types of sex (anal, oral and vaginal). If you are treated for gonorrhoea, it is really important that your partner is also treated before you have sex again to prevent reinfection.