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Gonorrhoea - What are the symptoms of gonorrhoea?

BMJ Group Medical Reference

You might have been infected with gonorrhoea without knowing it.

About half of all women who get gonorrhoea have no symptoms.[10] But men usually get some signs that they have been infected.[10] If you do get symptoms, they will probably start one to 14 days after you've been infected.[11]

Here are the most common ones.

If you're a woman you might get:[10]

  • A yellow or greenish discharge from your vagina

  • Burning pain when you urinate

  • Pain in your lower abdomen

  • Bleeding between your periods (this is rare).

If you're a man you might get:[10]

  • A burning pain when you urinate

  • A need to urinate often

  • Fluid or pus coming out of your penis (often leaving a yellow or yellow-green spot on your underwear)

  • Sore testicles

  • Redness or soreness at the tip of your penis.

Men and women:[10]

  • Can get a sore throat if they have gonorrhoea in their throat. But most people don't get any symptoms from a gonorrhoea infection in their throat

  • Might have pain, itching, or discharge around their rectum if the infection is there. But infections in the rectum don't usually cause symptoms.

If you think you might have gonorrhoea, you should see your doctor or go to your local sexual health clinic (also known as a genitourinary medicine, or GUM, clinic).

The doctor or nurse will examine you. They will also ask questions about your sex life. They are not being personal. They just need this information to give you the best treatment.

They will take samples to test whether you have gonorrhoea. Sometimes these tests can be done on the spot. Sometimes the samples have to be sent to a laboratory. It can take a few days for the results to come back.

The test for gonorrhoea can be done on either a urine sample or a swab sample. A swab is a twist of cotton at the end of a thin stick. The nurse or doctor uses it to take a sample of fluid. The fluid can then be tested for the bacteria that cause gonorrhoea.

In women, the sample is usually taken from the neck of the womb (the cervix). In men, it is taken from the tube that carries urine down from the bladder (the urethra).[10] Sometimes doctors need to take a swab sample from the throat or rectum.

If you have gonorrhoea, you may also have other infections passed on by having sex. One of these is called chlamydia. (To learn more, see our information on chlamydia.) So the doctor or nurse may suggest you have tests for other infections too.

It's very important for your sexual partner or partners to get treatment too. They could have health problems from gonorrhoea, pass it on to other people, or even give it back to you. The clinic can contact partners for you and tell them they need a test. They can do this without telling your partners your name.

It is important that you use a condom during sex until you and your partner or partners have finished treatment for gonorrhoea. If you don't use a condom, you could get infected again.[10] To read more about using condoms, see Using a condom properly.

You should also use a condom after treatment, unless you are in a monogamous relationship with someone who doesn't have an infection that can be passed on during sex.

Last Updated: November 22, 2012
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.
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