Gonorrhoea (‘the drip'/’the clap’) is caused by bacteria. These bacteria can be found on the mucous membranes of the vagina, penis, anus, throat and eyes.
Video: Doctor Hanna about gonorrhoea
What is gonorrhoea?
Gonorrhoea in the throat is caused by oral sex (cunnilingus, fellatio). An infection of the anus does not usually cause symptoms. There may be slimy, pus-like discharge or blood in your faeces (poo). Gonorrhoea is easy to transmit. But this STI is also easy to cure if you do something about it quickly.
Women and girls often don’t have symptoms when they have gonorrhoea. They may have a bit more discharge than usual. The discharge may not smell nice and may look strange (green or yellow pus). Peeing may hurt.
Men and boys will often have pus-like discharge from the urethra. This discharge may be yellow or green and cause a burning or irritated feeling when you’re having a pee. You may often have to pee small quantities. But some people have no symptoms at all. Even then you can pass on the infection.
Gonorrhoea is easy to treat with antibiotics (an injection or pills). Your symptoms should disappear a week after the treatment. That’s when you can have sex again.
If women don’t get treatment
Without treatment, gonorrhoea can spread to your fallopian tubes. They become infected and this infection can spread to your abdominal cavity. An infection of the fallopian tubes may cause a fever. You don’t feel well and have lower abdominal pain. Early treatment (antibiotics and bed rest) can cure a fallopian tube infection completely. An infection that isn’t treated can cause scar tissue. This may cause a blockage in the tube. And this, in turn, can cause infertility or an ectopic pregnancy.
If you’re pregnant, you can pass gonorrhoea on to your baby. The baby’s eyes may come into contact with the bacteria in the vagina during delivery. Treatment during pregnancy ensures that the baby is not at risk.
If men don’t get treatment
The infection may also spread through a man’s body but this is less likely than in women. Bacteria may spread to the prostate and the epididymis through the urethra. That can cause an infection of the epididymis. This causes severe pain in the scrotum, sometimes radiating into the groin area. You’ll feel a swelling in the scrotum. The spermatic cord, which runs from the abdomen to the scrotum, may be painful and swollen. Sometimes an infection of the epididymis can cause an infection in the testicles. This causes swelling and pain. Prostate infections are often accompanied by a fever and peeing may be difficult and painful. The area around your genitals will also be painful.