Gonorrhoea (pronounced goh-nuh-REE-uh) or ‘The Clap’ is a sexually transmitted illness (STI) and is caused by bacteria called Neisseria gonorrhoea. Gonorrhoea is passed on from one person to another through oral, vaginal or anal sex. It can also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her infant child at birth. If you’re infected with gonorrhoea, symptoms of the infection will show up in your mouth, throat, anus, cervix fallopian tubes and uterus.
Ejaculation does not need to happen for gonorrhoea to spread. If infected fluids touch from either your partner’s vagina or penis, and then that is followed by touching your anus, mouth or even your eyes, then that can cause you to be infected.
The STI doesn’t only spread between a man and a woman, it can also spread between females who have sex with females and males who have sex with males.
Many people with gonorrhoea may not always show any symptoms (meaning they are asymptomatic) and can live up to many years without knowing they are infected, spreading the unknowingly. Having unsafe sex increases your chances of being infected by gonorrhoea. There are symptoms that you can look out for. These symptoms are sometimes confused for a urinal tract infection, so make sure you understand the difference between the two. Also speak to a nurse or doctor about your symptoms so that you don’t incorrectly diagnose yourself.
Signs and symptoms
The signs or symptoms of gonorrhoea will depend on where, on your body, you are first infected by the STI.
Signs and symptoms in the genital area can include:
- Pain or burning when urinating
- More vaginal discharge than usual
- Vaginal discharge that looks different than usual
- Bleeding between periods or spotting
- Pain in the pelvis or abdomen
Signs and symptoms in the rectum/anus include:
- Painful bowel movements
- Itching in the anal area
- Pus-like discharge
- Bright red blood on toilet paper
Signs and symptoms in the eyes:
- Sensitivity to light
- Abnormal, pus-like discharge
Signs and symptoms in the throat:
- Swollen glands in the neck
- Sore throat
What happens if I don’t treat gonorrhoea?
Gonorrhoea can cause serious health problems to a person infected even if they do not have or show any signs or symptoms. This STI can cause skin rashes or spread to the joints, which can cause swelling or pain while moving. You could also struggle to get pregnant later in your life.
Getting Tested and Treatment
You need to visit your local doctor or clinic to get tested for gonorrhoea. You will also need to get tested for other STIs such as chlamydia because that is also an STI which doesn’t always show any symptoms. Gonorrhoea can be treated by antibiotics but if left untreated, as explained earlier, this STI can leave serious health problems. Although the antibiotics can help cure you of gonorrhoea, they can’t fix any permanent injury/damage done to your body. This is why it’s important to get tested as soon as you suspect you or your partner may be infected with the STI.
In order for the treatment to work and be cured, you need to finish the treatment even if you notice the symptoms going away. You can get be re-infected with gonorrhoea, so always practise safe sex and tell your partner to also get tested for gonorrhoea.
Chomas, if you notice any of these symptoms or if your partner shows symptoms of gonorrhoea, like an unusual sore, a smelly discharge, burning when urinating, or spotting, then visit your local clinic as soon as possible. If you have a burning question to ask me about gonorrhoea, or want to share your story then you are more than welcome to.