What is Gonorrhoea?
Gonorrhoea is a sexually-transmitted infection that affects both men and women. It is also an infection that is becoming increasingly common. It is caused by a bacteria (neisseria gonorrhoea) and can create problems in the penis, vagina and anus. It can also be caught and passed on by the throat from unprotected oral sex with an infected partner.

How do I know if I have gonorrhoea?
The majority of women and some men will not show any signs of being infected, so it is possible that they might have gonorrhoea but have no symptoms. The simple answer is to have a test.

What are the symptoms?

Most men with gonorrhoea in the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder to outside the body) feel pain when passing urine, and have a green or yellow discharge coming out of the end of the penis.

Most women have no symptoms with gonorrhoea in the urethra or cervix (neck of the womb); but some may notice a vaginal discharge, or discomfort when passing urine.

Men and Women
Gonorrhoea in the rectum (anal passage) often shows no signs; but can cause constipation, pain around the anus, blood or discharge with bowel movements.

There are usually no signs of gonorrhoea in the throat.

Where can I get the test?
If you or your partner are concerned that you may have an infection you should see a doctor. Probably the quickest and best option is to go to a Integrated Sexual Health Clinic (formerly Genito-urinary GUM). The staff there are specially-trained, and the service you get will be free, confidential and welcoming. Just phone to make an appointment.

How will I be tested?
Samples are taken from the penis in men, or the cervix in women. Also samples may be taken from the anus or throat. Sometimes the doctor can tell in a few minutes by looking under the microscope, other cases may take a few days for the results to come back.

How can it be prevented?
The best way to prevent any sexually-transmitted infections is to practise safer sex. This means giving and getting pleasure in ways that don’t put you or your partner at risk of STIs. Always use a condom for vaginal, anal or oral sex; or enjoy sex without penetration – like kissing, hugging, massaging, and masturbating.

How is gonorrhoea treated?
Gonorrhoea is easily treated with antibiotics, either in tablet form, or sometimes by injection. It is very important that you:

  • come back and see the doctor or health adviser for a follow-up visit to check the infection is completely gone
  • remember that your partner will also need to be tested and may require treatment too, otherwise they could infect you again
  • avoid having sex or oral sex until you and your partner get the ‘all clear’

What will happen if gonorrhoea is not treated?
If you are not treated, you can pass it on to other sexual partners, and may have complications yourself. Men may have pain and swelling around the testicles, women may develop pelvic inflammatory disease, and in both cases it may affect your chances of having children in the future. If you have gonorrhoea in the rectum, it could form an abscess that would need an operation to cure.

NHS Health Scotland have produced an information leaflet on Gonorrhoea which can be accessed by going to :  http://www.healthscotland.com/

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