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How common is gonorrhoea?

Gonorrhoea is one of the most common infections. Thousands of gay and bisexual men are treated in clinics for it every year*. Gonorrhoea is also known as ‘the clap’.

What causes gonorrhoea?

Gonorrhoea is caused by bacteria that live on moist, warm parts of the body such as the inside of the arse, mouth, throat and urethra (the pipe in your cock that you piss down). It’s easy to pick up or pass on.

What are the symptoms of gonorrhoea?

Symptoms can start around two to seven days after being infected. But there may be no symptoms, especially with gonorrhoea of the arse or throat.

Gonorrhoea in the cock can cause a white/yellow discharge and pain when pissing, and it might make you want to piss but you’ll find that you can’t, or only a little.

Gonorrhoea in the arse may cause discharge or pain when shitting, but usually you won’t notice symptoms.

If you get it in your throat it can sometimes cause a sore throat, but it is usually symptom-free.

How is gonorrhoea passed on?

Gonorrhoea is passed on through unprotected:

  • fucking or being fucked
  • sucking or being sucked
  • rimming
  • fisting.

Gonorrhoea can be spread by getting the bacteria on your fingers, then touching other parts of your own body.

How is gonorrhoea prevented?

Using a condom greatly reduces the risk of gonorrhoea being picked up or passed on.

No-one’s immune to gonorrhoea. If you’ve had it before, you can get it again.

How is gonorrhoea treated?

Gonorrhoea is diagnosed by testing a sample of your piss or taking a swab from the infected area.

You should be given one antibiotic as an injection into your buttock and a second as a tablet. You’ll be asked to come back to the clinic to check the treatment has worked.

Around the world there have been reported cases of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhoea, with the first one in the UK in 2018. It is very likely that over the next few years drug resistant gonorrhoea will become a growing problem.

What happens if gonorrhoea isn’t treated?

Untreated gonorrhoea can cause serious damage to your balls (known as epididymitis), arthritis and prostatitis (long-term inflammation inside the arse).

Read more on drug resistant gonorrhoea.

*21,346 men who have sex with men were diagnosed with gonorrhoea in 2017 (Public Health England, 2018)

Last review: 05/11/2018
Next review: 05/11/2021