Gonorrhoea: All you need to know

Gonorrhoea is the most common STI amongst men who have sex with men, so what should you look out for, and how do you get tested? Find out the basics on gonorrhoea below.

How common is it?

36,244 cases of gonorrhoea were diagnosed in 2016 and men who have sex with men made up 17,584 of these. Last year gonorrhoea made up 9% of the overall number of STIs diagnosed. Gonorrhoea is the most common STI amongst men who have sex with men.

What are the symptoms?

About half of infected women won’t experience any obvious symptoms. If you do get symptoms, they may include an unusual vaginal discharge and pain/burning sensation when peeing.

About 1 in 10 infected men won’t experience any obvious symptoms. Symptoms include an unusual discharge from the tip of the penis, pain/burning sensation when peeing and inflammation (swelling) of the foreskin.

What does the test involve?

A swab (like a small round cotton bud) is wiped over parts of the body that may be infected to pick up samples of discharge. This only takes a few seconds and isn’t painful, although it may be a little uncomfortable. You can get tested at your nearest sexual health clinic.

What happens if I have it?

If you test positive, treatment involves having a single antibiotic injection into your bum cheek followed by one antibiotic tablet. If you can’t have the injection for any reason, you can take another antibiotic tablet.

How do I protect myself against it?

The best way to protect yourself is by using condoms, as they are the only method of contraception which helps to protect against STIs.

What happens if I don’t get treatment?

If left untreated, gonorrhoea can lead to serious long-term health problems including painful infection in the testicles and prostate gland for men, which could lead to reduced fertility and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women, which can lead to infertility.

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