Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoaea 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 serious health issues including infertility. 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.
Gonorrhoea does not always have symptoms, which means people can live with it, unknowingly. 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.
If you become sexually active with a new partner then you could be at risk of contracting gonorrhoea. In many cases, there are no symptoms so your partner may not be aware that he or she is infected. Younger people, between the ages of 15 and 30 are most frequently affected so if you fall into this age group, you are more at risk.
Last updated October 3, 2016