Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection which infects the mucous membranes (linings) of the male urethra, female cervix and sometimes the eye, rectum or throat.
Gonorrhoea is transmitted by having vaginal, anal or oral sex with someone who has the infection.
It can also be transmitted from mother to baby at birth.


Women often do not develop symptoms but can still pass on the infection. Possible symptoms include vaginal discharge, pelvic pain or abnormal bleeding.
In men with urethral infection, symptoms usually occur within 2-10 days after infection. Symptoms include urethral discharge, urethral irritation, or pain on urinating.
Infection in the rectum or throat usually causes no symptoms.


Testing for gonorrhoea is done by swabs taken from the cervix in women and from the urethra in men.


In most cases a single dose of the correct antibiotic reliably and rapidly cures gonorrhoea. Chlamydia and gonorrhoea often occur together, so you may be given treatment for both infections.
Sexual partners should have a sexual health check and treatment even if they have no symptoms and even if they have a negative test result.

Possible complications

If left untreated in women, gonorrhoea may lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID may cause future problems with ectopic pregnancies, infertility or chronic pelvic pain.
Men may develop epididymitis (inflammation of the epididymis, in the scrotum), chronic (long term) urethral irritation or chronic testicular discomfort.
Rarely, gonorrhoea may spread via the blood stream to cause severe arthritis and infect other internal organs.

This page was last updated at 12:00PM on February 18, 2019.