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Gonorrhoea is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI), also known as 'the clap'. It's serious because if not treated early it can lead to some very serious health problems.The good news is it's easily treated with antibiotics.

Signs and symptoms

There are often none but if there are:

  • A yellow or white discharge from the penis or vagina.
  • Irritation and/or discharge from the anus.
  • Inflammation of the testicles and prostate gland.
  • Pain when passing urine.
  • Bleeding between periods.

How do you get it?

  • Unprotected (without a condom) vaginal or anal sex.
  • Unprotected oral sex (from mouth to the genitals).
  • Sharing sex toys if you don't wash them or cover them with a condom.

And less often by:

  • Rimming (where a person uses their mouth and tongue to stimulate another person's anus).
  • Inserting your fingers into an infected vagina, anus or mouth and then putting them into your own without washing your hands in between.
  • Mother to child transmission at birth.

Testing and treatment

You can be tested for gonorrhoea and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) at your local sexual health (GUM) clinic.

For women, a doctor or nurse may carry out an examination of your genital area. They will take a swab (like a cotton-bud) from your vagina and cervix (entrance to your womb). It is possible to do a self-taken swab if you'd prefer. For men they will ask for a urine sample. If you have had anal or oral sex they may also take a swab from your rectum or throat.

They may take a sample to look at under the microscope immediately to get your results, otherwise it'll take between 7 and 10 days for results to come back. 

A course of antibiotics can be taken to treat gonorrhoea, and you will need to do a follow-up test to make sure the gonorrhoea has gone. 

Long-term effects

If left untreated in women it can spread to other reproductive organs causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can lead to infertility. In men it can lead to a painful infection in the testicles and reduce fertility. 

In rare cases it can get in the bloodstream and cause heart, skin and joint infections.