STI of the Day: Gonorrhoea

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It's sexual health week! So, we will be giving you the low down on a different STI every day. Because healthy sex is awesome sex...

The male and female condom
Today's lucky STI under the spotlight is gonorrhoea

Hot facts

Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by bacteria called Neisseria gonorrhoeae or gonococcus.

Back in the day it was known as "the clap" because men used to hit, slap and 'clap' their hands over their penises (or get someone to do it for them) in order to remove discharge and supposidly cure the disease! Eeewwww gross. 

The bacteria are found in discharge from the penis and vagina of infected men and women.

Gonorrhoea isn't as common as chlamydiagenital warts or genital herpes.

Young men and women are affected most - the highest rates of gonorrhoea are seen in women aged 16-19 and men aged 20-24.

Word on the street is...

Clap, Racehorse, Drip

What is it and how d'ya catch it?  

Any sexually active individual can catch gonorrhoea through unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex.

You can also get infected through coming into contact with vaginal or penile secretions...even if he doesn't ejaculate.

Gonorrhoea can also be passed from a mother to her unborn child

Sharing vibrators or other sex aids can lead to STIs

Who can get it?

Both men and women


For women: A white or yellow discharge with a strong smell, pain when urinating, bleeding between periods

For men: A white, yellow or green discharge from the penis one to four days after picking up the infection. Painful, swollen testicles and pain when urinating.

Around one in ten infected men and almost half if infected women don't experience any symptoms.

If the infection is picked up anally (via anal sex) symptoms include discharge, anal itching, soreness, bleeding and painful toilet troubles. Infections picked up through the throat often cause no symptoms meaning The Clap sticks around and infects all your future partners. Nice.

Symptoms of rectal infection in both men and women may include discharge, anal itching, soreness, bleeding, or painful bowel movements. Rectal infections may also cause no symptoms. Infections in the throat may cause a sore throat, but usually cause no symptoms.


Women with gonorrhea are at risk of developing serious complications from the infection, even if symptoms are not present or are mild.

Gonorrhea can spread into the uterus (womb) or fallopian tubes and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

PID can lead to internal abscesses (pus-filled pockets that are hard to cure) and chronic pelvic pain. PID can damage the fallopian tubes and increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy.

In men, gonorrhea can cause a painful condition called epididymitis in the tubes attached to the testicles. In rare cases, this may prevent a man from being able to father children.

If not treated, gonorrhea can also spread to the blood or joints. This condition can be life-threatening.

Untreated gonorrhea can increase a person's risk of acquiring or transmitting HIV-the virus that causes AIDS.


A simple urine test can be used to test for gonorrhoea, but some doctors may use swabs to collect samples from the throat, return and cervix.

You should get tested for gonorrhoea if you have unprotected sex with a new partner. 

Testing is not carried out routinely when you have a smear test.

You can get tested at your local GP or use any sexual health service (such as a family planning clinic, an STI clinic or GUM centre).

Testing is confidential and you don't have to see your GP first if you go to a clinic.

Testing is pain free and simple. Usually it is just a urine test or a swab (basically a cotton bud) used to get a sample of cells from the vagina or penis.



Gonorrhoea can be cured with the right antibiotic treatments, but nothing can repair the internal damage caused by the disease.

A single dose of antibiotics is roughly 95% effective, but it's important to start treatment as early as possible.  

Previous successful treatment for the infection doesn't make you immune from it in the wear a condom!

Prevention is better than a cure

In order to prevent catching gonorrhoea - use a condom when having vaginal, oral or anal sex.

Make sure you wash sex toys using warm water and anti-bacterial wash after each use. Avoid sharing toys with other people. Make them get their own.

Tune in tomorrow for our next exciting instalment of STI of the day! 

Could sex toys be damaging your health?

Cystitis sorted: myths, prevention and treatments

Do our vaginas really need 'rejuvenating'? New anti-ageing and tightening cream 18 Again seems to think so

Katie Price admits she hasn't used protection for four years!

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