Gonorrhoea (Neisseria gonorrhoaea) is bacterial sexually transmitted infection and is sometimes known as the clap. It affects both men and women and spreads easily during sexual activity. It can be difficult to detect, as many people - especially women - do not have any symptoms. However, left untreated it can lead to painful swelling of the testicles (epididymitis) or the prostate gland (prostatitis) in men and pelvic inflammation disease in women, which in rare cases can lead to an ectopic pregnancy (when a fertilised egg grows outside the womb) and infertility. Untreated gonorrhoea can also make it easier to become infected with HIV. Even if you don't have symptoms, it is essential you get tested every time you change sexual partner or if you are a woman who is pregnant or plans to get pregnant.
Gonorrhoea reproduces easily in the warm, moist areas of the genitals and the urethra (the tube in which you pee. It can also infect the throat, eyes, anus and the body's joints. It is treated with antibiotics.
As gonorrhoea cannot survive outside of the body for long, it is not spread by kissing or sharing swimming pools, toilet seats, towels or cutlery.
The bacteria - Neisseria gonorrhoea or gonococcus - are found mainly in the fluid of a woman's vagina or he discharge from a man's penis. The bugs flourish in the genital area, reproducing quickly and spreading to other parts of the body. Women can also pass it on to their babies during childbirth.
Gonorrhoea can be passed on with any type of sexual activity. Remember, for many people (especially women), there aren't any symptoms so you may not know you or your partner is infected. It is passed on by:
- Unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex
- Sharing sex toys that have not been washed or covered with a condom
- Touching someone's genitals with your fingers
- Rubbing your genitals together
Last updated August 27, 2018