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Gonorrhoea (Clap)

Gonorrhoea is an infection caused by bacteria that live on moist, warm parts of the body such as the urethra (the pipe in the penis that urine comes down) in men or in the vagina, as well as in the throat, anus and rectum. It’s easy to pick up and pass on.


Symptoms can start from around two to seven days after infection, but there may be no symptoms, especially with infection of the throat or anus.

In men symptoms of gonorrhoea can be:

  • Drops of white or green liquid on the end of the penis (a discharge)
  • Pain when passing urine
  • Itching in the anus or rectum

In women symptoms of gonorrhoea can be:

  • A white or green liquid discharge from the vagina
  • Pain when passing urine
  • Itching in the anus or rectum

How it is transmitted?

You can get gonorrhoea by having unprotected sex with someone who already has it through:

  • Anal sex
  • Vaginal sex
  • Oral sex
  • Rimming
  • Sharing sex toys

If a woman has untreated gonorrhoea then it can also be passed on to her child during childbirth. Gonorrhoea can also be spread by getting the bacteria on you fingers, then touching other parts of your own body.

Do you think you may have gonorrhoea?

If you think you may have gonorrhoea you can go to your nearest GUM Clinic. You can also see your local GP.

By law, sexual health clinics cannot tell anyone about your visit to the GUM; these rules do not apply to your GP who can tell other people about your appointment.


The doctor or nurse will test you for gonorrhoea by taking a urine sample or a small sample with cotton wool or a swab:

  • In women swabs are usually taken from the cervix (entrance to the womb) and urethra
  • In men swabs are usually taken from the tip of the penis

In both men and women swabs can be taken from the throat or the rectum. Having a swab taken is not painful, although it may be uncomfortable.


After the swabs have been tested, you will then be told if you have gonorrhoea. To get rid of gonorrhoea it usually takes a course of antibiotics in tablet form, or you might be given a liquid or injection. You may be asked to make a return visit by your doctor to check that the gonorrhoea has gone.

Why is treatment important?

It is important to get rid of gonorrhoea because if it stays in your body it can lead to serious health problems.

No-one is immune to gonorrhoea, if you have had it you can get it again.

Protect yourself and others

If you have gonorrhoea it is best to tell anyone you have had sex with recently so that they can get a checkup. Remember, until the gonorrhoea is treated, and until you have taken all the antibiotics, you can still pass it on to anyone you have sex with.

Using a condom can help protect against getting and passing on gonorrhoea or other sexually transmitted infections. Dental dams can also be used during oral sex and rimming for safer sex. You can order free safer sex packs from Trade here.


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