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Gonorrhoea symptoms and treatment advice online

Gonorrhoea is one of the fastest spreading sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the UK. Both men and women who are sexually active can get gonorrhoea, but it's most common in men aged 20 to 24 and women aged 16 to 19. If left untreated, gonorrhoea may lead to infertility and can even be life-threatening if it spreads to the blood and joints. These unwanted effects on your health could be avoided by taking the right precautions and using effective treatment. For more information on this STI, you can continue below.

Gonorrhoea was typically cured with a course of antibiotics such as Azithromycin, however, please note that the recommended treatment is currently the injection administered by your doctor or at the sexual health clinic. This is due to a resistant strain of the bacteria across certain areas of the UK. If you think you may have gonorrhoea, find your nearest clinic at NHS resources online.

Content reviewed on 07-04-21
Dr. Caroline Fontana
Prescribing Doctor
(GMC Reg: 7526266)

What is gonorrhoea?

Gonorrhoea is a contagious bacterial STI that is most common amongst men between the ages of 20 and 24, and women between the ages of 16 and 19. However, this sexually transmitted infection can affect anyone, regardless of age. It is transmitted via sexual contact with an infected individual, or by coming into contact with infected bodily fluids.

Gonorrhoea is easily spread and commonly affects individuals with many sex partners who do not participate in safe sex through the use of barrier contraceptives e.g. condoms.

What are the causes of gonorrhoea?

Gonorrhoea is caused by a harmful bacterium called Neisseria gonorrhoeae (or N. gonorrhoeae), and can be passed on from one sexual partner to another during vaginal, anal or oral sex. It can also be passed on by sharing sex toys with an infected partner. Ejaculation does not have to occur for gonorrhoea to be transmitted or passed on.

Some research has suggested that gonorrhoea could be transferred to another person through fingers, or by female-to-female genital contact, but the data provided by these studies is often unclear and inconclusive.

What are the symptoms of gonorrhoea?

Symptoms of gonorrhea

The common symptoms of gonorrhoea include:

  • Itching and sore rashes
  • Bleeding
  • Smelly discharge and painful bowel movements

The symptoms are often and men and women will experience slightly different symptoms.

Some men with gonorrhoea show no signs of the condition at all. However, some men have symptoms that appear 2 to 5 days after infection, whereas other symptoms can take as long as 30 days to appear. These include a burning sensation when urinating, or a coloured discharge from the penis.

In some rare cases, men with gonorrhoea experience painful or swollen testicles.

For women, the symptoms of gonorrhoea are often less aggressive, and sometimes they do not show at all. These include a painful or burning sensation when urinating, vaginal bleeding between periods and increased vaginal discharge.

Serious complications can arise from the infection, regardless of the presence or severity of a woman's symptoms, so it's crucial that you get treatment as soon as possible.

How does gonorrhoea look like

What are the risks of gonorrhoea?

If you treat the gonorrhoea infection quickly and effectively, it is unlikely that any further complications will occur. However, if left untreated, gonorrhoea can spread to other parts of the body, which can cause serious health problems.

In men, gonorrhoea could lead to epididymitis, a painful condition that affects the testicular ducts, which may eventually lead to infertility. For women, an untreated gonorrhoea outbreak could spread to other areas of the reproductive system. It can increase a woman's chance of ectopic pregnancy and can even be life threatening, as it can be spread through your bloodstream. People infected with gonorrhoea can contract the HIV virus more easily and put themselves at a greater risk of developing AIDS. So, it's essential that you get treatment as soon as possible.

What are the benefits of treating gonorrhoea?

There are a number of benefits that can be experienced when effectively treating gonorrhoea. These include:

  • Improved sexual confidence
  • Partner's sexual confidence will also improve
  • Enhanced sexual performance and experience
  • Psychological issues, such as stress and anxiety, are avoided
  • If pregnant, the risk of harming your unborn child is significantly reduced
  • If you are HIV positive, your viral load will remain stable
  • Reduces the risk of developing further health problems, such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

Can I get tested for gonorrhoea?

Gonorrhoea can be detected using a number of tests, which can be obtained by visiting your local doctor or sexual health clinic (GUM clinic). For men, you may be asked for a urine sample and for women, a nurse will usually take a swab from the cervix or vagina during an internal assessment. Remember, early diagnosis for gonorrhoea will allow you to treat the infection as soon as possible, which will decrease the likelihood of any future complications.

How to treat gonorrhoea


The recommended best treatment for gonorrhoea is by injection of antibiotics at your local GUM (sexual health) clinic. This involves having a single injection to the thigh or buttocks, followed by one antibiotic tablet. The NHS recommends that for the best chance possible in successfully curing your gonorrhoea infection, prescription medication is always necessary alongside an antibiotic injection, or instead of an injection (in this case another tablet is required).

Prevention of gonorrhoea

There are a number of methods you can consider to avoid the possibility of becoming infected with gonorrhoea. These methods include:

  • Discussing STIs with your partner before beginning a sexual relationship
  • Avoid sexual contact with someone who is infected with an STI
  • Avoiding more than one sexual relationship at one time
  • Wearing a condom during sex with a new partner
  • Consider regular gonorrhoea screenings, if you feel you are at risk

What options do we offer to treat gonorrhoea?

If you have tested positive for gonorrhoea, you can buy the Gonorrhoea Treatment Pack online at HealthExpress by clicking below and taking a quick and simple online consultation, to determine which prescription treatment is right for you to purchase. After you have completed an online consultation, one of our doctors can assess your condition and recommend which treatments are best suited for you. Once you've made your choice, a prescription will be issued and forwarded to our pharmacy. They will then prepare your medication and dispatch it for free next day.

Benefits of treating Gonnorhoea

  • Avoid other potential sexually transmitted infections

  • Keeping your partner safe from any potential infections

  • Avoid potential complications of pregnancy due to the infection

  • Improved sexual confidence

  • Avoiding potential long-term health problems, such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and epididymo-orchitis (inflammation of the testicles)

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