What is it?
This is an infection of your urethra, rectum, throat or eyes caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae.
How do you get it?
Gonorrhoea is passed on by giving or receiving anal sex, oral sex, and rectal play such as fingering and fisting with an infected person. Touching an infected penis or rectum and then touching your own penis, rectum or eyes can also transmit gonorrhoea.
What are the symptoms or signs?
It is quite common to have no symptoms, especially if the infection is in your rectum or the throat. However symptoms can include a dry or sore throat, itchiness and pain during bowel movements or a clear or yellow discharge from the penis and pain or burning when urinating. Throat infections may also cause discharge however this is less common. These usually take between two and 10 days to show up after being exposed.
Gonorrhoea is usually detected by a urine test as well as swabs collected from the rectum and throat. It is preferable not to urinate for at least one hour prior to having a urine test.
Can it be treated?
Gonorrhoea is easily cured with antibiotics. Sexual contact should be avoided for at least one week to ensure the infection has cleared after treatment.
How can it be prevented?
Using a condom for anal sex can reduce the risk of transmission if the infected area (for example penis or anus) is covered. Condoms may not always cover the infected area so there is a risk of passing on gonorrhoea. It can also be passed on through oral sex or by touching an infected area and then touching your own penis, anus or eyes.
Gonorrhoea & HIV
HIV infection may exacerbate some of the symptoms and complications of gonorrhoea. Also, some research has shown a link between gonorrhoea and faster HIV disease progression.
Cases of severe arthritis related to gonorrhoea have been reported in people with HIV. There are also reports of keratoconjunctivitis, a severe inflammation of the membrane which covers the eye.
Gonorrhoea infections also increase the amount of HIV in semen. This means that the chance of passing on HIV through unprotected anal sex is greater.
Gonorrhoea, particularly anal gonorrhoea, also causes inflammation, which can make an HIV-negative person more susceptible to being infected with HIV.