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Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted, bacterial infection caused by bacteria called: Neisseria gonorrhoeae or gonococcus. It is serious, but curable. Some people call it ‘the clap’. You can get infected with gonorrhea by having unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex or by sharing sex toys (without washing them or covering them with a new condom each time they’re used). It is also possible for women who are pregnant and have gonorrhea to pass the infection on to their baby.

The main symptoms of gonorrhea are: passing urine, discharge from the penis or vagina, and bleeding in between periods (in women). It is reasonably common for people to have gonorrhea and have no symptoms. For this reason, people often have gonorrhea without realising it, so it is worth getting a sexual health check if you have had unprotected sex. The test for gonorrhea is a simple swab test (or a urine sample for men). If you have got it, it can be treated very quickly with a single course of antibiotics.

If you get gonorrhea and don’t treat it, it can cause serious long term health problems, like pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility.


What is the treatment for gonorrhea?

The recommended treatment for gonorrhea are antibiotics either cetriaxone or cefixime administered as an injection. You will also be given an antibiotic called azithromycin that is taken in tablet form at the same time. This helps treat any chlamydia infection (it is common for people to get both infections together).

You can get this treatment at any sexual health clinic or sometimes from your GP surgery.

How is it diagnosed?

The gonorrhea test for women consists of a swab test, whereas the test for men involves a urine sample. You can order a gonorrhea home test kit online from DrEd. You can also order oral and anal swab test kits. 

How does gonorrhea treatment work?

Antibiotics for gonorrhea work by killing the bugs and stopping them from replicating/multiplying.

After gonorrhea treatment, what should I expect?

After treatment you should see your symptoms start to improve, if you experienced any. Symptoms normally clear within a week of treatment. If you're still experiencing symptoms then you should consult the clinic where you received treatment for further advice. 

It's also good to follow up treatment with a 'test of cure' to check that you're now clear of any STIs, this can be organised through our website or via the clinic where you obtained treatment. This follow up test is normally done 2-4 weeks after the treatment.

You should avoid having further sexual contact until both you and your partner have been treated properly.

Statistics on gonorrhea

In 2014, there were almost 35,000 new cases of gonorrhea in the UK. Gonorrhea is more common in young people than older people, particularly women aged 16-19 and men aged 20-24. A tenth of men with gonorrhea don’t have any symptoms. Half of all women with gonorrhea don’t have any symptoms.

How is gonorrhea transmitted?

You can get infected with gonorrhea by having unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex or by sharing sex toys (without washing them or covering them with a new condom each time they’re used). 

Anyone who is sexually active can get gonorrhea. You’ll only know for sure if you’ve got it by doing a test. You should get tested if you think that you/your partner has the symptoms of gonorrhea; if you/your partner have had unprotected sex with other people; if you have another sexually transmitted infection; if you hear that one of your sexual partners has a sexually transmitted infection; if you are told by a healthcare professional that the cells of your cervix are inflamed or that there is an unusual discharge; if you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant. Gonorrhea is more common amongst young people than older people, particularly women aged 16-19 and men aged 20-24.

Gonorrhea in Pregnancy

It is also possible for women who are pregnant and have gonorrhea to pass the infection on to their baby during childbirth. The baby normally starts to show symptoms of conjunctivitis in their eyes (their eyes will look swollen and red, with a thick pus-like discharge) in the first couple of weeks after they are born. The baby can safely be treated with medicated eyedrops or ointment and antibiotics to avoid blindness. Mothers can treat their gonorrhea with antibiotics even if they are pregnant or breastfeeding. The antibiotics won’t hurt the baby.

How long does it take to get the test result?

You’ll have to wait between a few hours up to two weeks for your results, depending on the clinic. (Some sexual health clinics now have rapid result laboratories on site.)

 

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