Welcome to the OutUK series looking at gay men and their health brought to you in association with the NHS website.
Each week we'll tackle a different topic in our A to Z of Gay Health. We'll have features and advice on everything from relationships, sexual health, mental and physical conditions and how to stay fit. You can follow any of links provided below for more information direct from the nhs.uk website, or view any of our Previous A to Z Features.

This Week - G : Gonorrhoea

Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by bacteria called Neisseria gonorrhoeae or gonococcus. It used to be known as "the clap".

The bacteria are mainly found as discharge from the genitals.

Gonorrhoea is easily passed between people through:

  • unprotected oral or anal sex
  • sharing vibrators or other sex toys that have not been washed or covered with a new condom each time they're used

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

Gonorrhoea is not spread by kissing, hugging, swimming pools, toilet seats, or sharing baths, towels, cups, plates or cutlery. The bacteria cannot survive outside the human body for long.

Symptoms of gonorrhoea

Typical symptoms of gonorrhoea include a thick green or yellow discharge from the penis and sometimes pain when urinating.

However, around 1 in 10 infected men do not experience any symptoms.

Read more about the symptoms of gonorrhoea.

Getting tested

If you have any of the symptoms of gonorrhoea, or you're worried you may have an STI, you should visit your local sexual health clinic for a sexual health test.

Read more about visiting an STI clinic.

You can also contact the FPA sexual health helpline on 0345 122 8687.

Gonorrhoea can be easily diagnosed by testing a sample of discharge picked up using a swab. In men, testing a sample of urine can also diagnose the condition.

It's important to get tested as soon as possible because gonorrhoea can lead to more serious long-term health problems if it's not treated, including infertility.

Read more about diagnosing gonorrhoea and the possible complications of gonorrhoea.

Treating gonorrhoea

Gonorrhoea is usually treated with a single antibiotic injection and a single antibiotic tablet. With effective treatment, most of your symptoms should improve within a few days.

It's usually recommended you attend a follow-up appointment a week or two after treatment so another test can be carried out to see if you're clear of infection.

You should avoid having sex until you've been told you no longer have the infection.

Previous successful treatment for gonorrhoea does not make you immune to catching it again.

Read more about how gonorrhoea is treated.

Who's affected?

Anyone who's sexually active can catch gonorrhoea, particularly people who change partners frequently or do not use a barrier method of contraception, such as a condom, when having sex.

Gonorrhoea is the second most common bacterial STI in the UK after chlamydia. In 2017, more than 44,500 people were diagnosed with gonorrhoea in England, with most cases affecting young people under the age of 25.

Preventing gonorrhoea

Gonorrhoea and other STIs can be successfully prevented by using appropriate contraception and taking other precautions, such as:

  • using a condom during anal sex
  • using a condom to cover the penis if you have oral sex
  • not sharing sex toys, or washing them and covering them with a new condom before anyone else uses them

If you're worried you may have an STI, visit your local GUM or sexual health clinic for advice.

Read more advice about STIs.


We'll have more information and advice next week on another topic in our A to Z of Gay Health. We have covered many subjects in this series and you can catch up with all of our Previous A to Z Features.

If you want to find out more about this week's subject you can visit the Original article on the NHS website. If you are worried by any aspect of your health make sure you go and see your doctor or book an appointment at your local clinic.

Photos: LightFieldStudios and one of VladOrlov, Stockcube, darak77 or ajr_images.

 

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