Updated: May 31, 2021

You may have heard about gonorrhoea but many people are not sure what it is.

Gonorrhoea also called the "clap" or "drip," is a contagious disease transmitted most often through sexual contact with an infected person. Gonorrhoea may also be spread by contact with infected bodily fluids, making it possible for a mother to pass on the infection to her newborn during childbirth.

Both men and women can get gonorrhoea. The infection is easily spread and occurs most often in people who have many sex partners.

It’s caused by infection with the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It tends to infect warm, moist areas of the body, including the:

  • urethra (the tube that drains urine from the urinary bladder)

  • eyes

  • throat

  • vagina

  • anus

  • female reproductive tract (the fallopian tubes, cervix, and uterus)

Gonorrhoea passes from person to person through unprotected oral, anal, or vaginal sex since the bacteria can grow in the mouth, throat, and anus.

How Do I Know If I Have Gonorrhoea?

Not all people infected with gonorrhoea have symptoms, so knowing when to seek treatment can be tricky. When symptoms do occur, they are often within two to fourteen days after exposure, but they can take up to 30 days to develop and include the following:

For Men:

  • white, yellow, or green urethral discharge, resembling pus

  • pain in the testicles or scrotum

  • painful or frequent urination

  • anal discharge, itching, pain, bleeding, or pain when passing stools

  • itching, difficulty swallowing, or swollen neck lymph nodes

  • eye pain, light sensitivity, or eye discharge resembling pus

  • red, swollen, warm, painful joints.

For Women:

  • painful sexual intercourse

  • fever

  • yellow or green vaginal discharge

  • vulvar swelling

  • bleeding in-between periods

  • heavier periods

  • bleeding after intercourse

  • vomiting and abdominal or pelvic pain

  • painful or frequent urination

  • anal discharge, itching, pain, bleeding, or pain with passing bowel movements

  • sore throat, itching, difficulty swallowing, or swollen neck lymph nodes

  • eye pain, light sensitivity, and eye discharge resembling pus

  • red, swollen, warm, painful joints.

How Is Gonorrhoea Diagnosed?

To diagnose gonorrhoea, your doctor will use a swab to take a sample of fluid from the urethra in men or from the cervix in women. The specimen will then be sent to a lab to be analyzed. You also may be given a throat or anal culture to see if the infection is in your throat or anus. There are other tests which check a urine sample for the presence of the bacteria. You may need to wait for several days for your tests to come back from the lab.

Gonorrhoea and chlamydia, another common sexually transmitted disease, often occur together, so you may be tested and treated for both.

How Is Gonorrhoea Treated?

Gonorrhoea can be treated and cured. To cure a gonorrhoea infection, your doctor will give you either an oral or injectable antibiotic. Your partner should also be treated at the same time to prevent reinfection and further spread of the disease.

It is important that you take all of the medication your doctor prescribes to cure your infection. Medication for gonorrhoea should not be shared with anyone. In addition,

  • Tell anyone you have had sex with recently that you are infected. This is important because gonorrhoea may have no symptoms. Women, especially, may not have symptoms and may not seek testing or treatment unless alerted by their sex partners.

  • Don't have sex until you have completed taking all of your medicine.

  • Always use condoms if you choose to have sex outside marriage, though, should not be encouraged.

While medication will stop the infection, it will not undo any permanent damage caused by the disease.

It is becoming harder to treat some gonorrhoea, as drug-resistant strains of gonorrhoea are increasing. If your symptoms continue for more than a few days after receiving treatment, you should return to a health care provider to be checked again.


Untreated gonorrhoea can cause serious and permanent problems in both women and men.

In women, if left untreated, the infection can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, which may damage the fallopian tubes (the tubes connecting the ovaries to the uterus) or even lead to infertility. And untreated gonorrhoea infection could increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy, a condition in which the fertilized egg develops outside the uterus. This is a dangerous condition for both mother and baby.

In men, gonorrhoea can cause epididymitis, a painful condition of the testicles that can sometimes lead to infertility if left untreated. Without prompt treatment, gonorrhoea can also affect the prostate and can lead to scarring inside the urethra, making urination difficult.

Gonorrhoea can spread to the blood or joints. This condition can be life-threatening. Also, people with gonorrhoea can more easily contract HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. People with HIV infection and gonorrhoea are more likely than people with HIV infection alone to transmit HIV to someone else.

Pregnancy Complications

Gonorrhoea in a pregnant woman can cause premature delivery or spontaneous abortion.

The infected mother may give the infection to her infant as the baby passes through the birth canal during delivery. This can cause blindness, joint infection, or a life-threatening blood infection in the baby.

Treatment of gonorrhoea as soon as it is detected in pregnant women will lessen the risk of these complications.

Pregnant women should consult a doctor for appropriate medications.

How Can I Prevent Gonorrhoea Infection?

To reduce your risk of gonorrhoea infection:

  • The best protection against sexually transmitted infections is abstinence or monogamy (sex with only one partner).

  • Use condoms correctly if you choose to have indiscriminate sex.

  • Avoid behaviours that make a person more likely to engage in indiscriminate and unprotected sex. These behaviours include alcohol abuse and illegal drug abuse, particularly intravenous drug use.

  • If you think you are infected, avoid sexual contact and see a doctor.

Any genital symptoms such as discharge or burning during urination or an unusual sore or rash should be a signal to stop having sex and to consult a doctor immediately. If you are told you have gonorrhoea or any other STD and receive treatment, you should notify all of your recent sex partners so that they can see a doctor and be treated.

To avoid reinfection with gonorrhoea, abstain from sex for seven days after you and your supposed spouse have completed treatment and after resolution of symptoms, if present.

....making effort to "STAY WELL"



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