Gonorrhea is caused by bacteria called Neisseria gonorrhoeae or gonococcus. It used to be known as “the clap”. The bacteria are mainly found in discharge from the penis from infected men. Typical symptoms of gonorrhea include a thick green or yellow discharge from the penis, pain when urinating. However, around 1 in 10 infected men don’t experience any symptoms.


Gonorrhea is easily passed between people through:

-Unprotected penetrative or oral sex & sharing vibrators or other sex toys that haven’t been washed or covered with a new condom each time they are used.

-The bacteria can infect the urethra (tube that carries urine out of the body), the rectum and, less commonly, the throat or eyes.

-Gonorrhea is not spread by kissing, hugging, sharing baths or towels, swimming pools, toilet seats, or sharing cups, plates and cutlery, because the bacteria can’t survive outside the human body for long.


Anyone who is sexually active can catch gonorrhea, especially people who change partners frequently or don’t use a barrier method of contraception such as a condom when having sex. Gonorrhea is the second most common bacterial STI in the UK after chlamydia. 

More than 25,000 cases were reported in England during 2012, with most cases affecting young men and women under the age of 25. Previous successful treatment for gonorrhoea doesn’t make you immune from catching the infection again.


Gonorrhea is usually treated with a single antibiotic injection and a single antibiotic tablet. This treatment is very effective and most of your symptoms should improve within a few days.

It’s usually recommended that you attend a follow-up appointment a week or two after treatment so another test can be carried out to see if you are clear of infection. You should avoid having sex until you have been given the all-clear.

More information is available at www.nhs.uk