Gonorrhoea is not a common infection, but it is a fairly miserable thing to get. Dr Joe Kosterich talks about the sexually transmitted infection gonorrhoea, including how common it is, what its symptoms are, how to treat it and why it’s important to get it treated.
In years gone by, gonorrhoea was much more common than today. It’s a sexually transmitted infection. Typically it causes pain with passing urine – it can be described as passing razorblades – and it also produces a discharge from the genitals which would usually be a bright yellow or green colour. It’s not a particularly subtle infection. On extremely rare occasions, people may carry it and not have symptoms, but that is quite rare. It is a sexually transmitted infection, so it’s something you will have picked up from somebody, and it can also be passed on to other people.
These days, most commonly if we’re going to see it, it may be from people who have travelled overseas, perhaps to south-east Asia (not exclusively), and obviously people who have been having unprotected sex are at a much greater risk of getting it. Condoms don’t guarantee that it’s impossible, but they do make it a lot less likely – it’s like going out in the rain with the proverbial umbrella: you’re less likely to get wet.
Gonorrhoea is important to treat. It is a nasty infection in that it causes quite severe symptoms, and it is quite contagious and can be passed on. Fortunately it’s fairly easy to diagnose, usually on urine sample or swab, and it’s very easy to treat with antibiotics. There are a couple of different forms that are used: sometimes in an oral form, sometimes it requires an injection of an antibiotic.
After you’ve been treated, there will be a couple of other important things. Number one would be to let anybody that you’ve been in contact with sexually know, because you don’t want to pass it on to them, but also they may have passed it on to you and it’s possible that people might even do that unknowingly.
The other important thing to do will be do a follow-up test and make sure it’s cleared. You’ll generally have a pretty good idea of that because the symptoms will go away and that’s a good indicator that it’s gone, but you want to make sure it’s completely gone so a follow-up test is recommended.
Chlamydia causes similar symptoms, although usually not as severe, and we’ve got a separate video on that. Non-specific urethritis can also cause similar symptoms to chlamydia.
Gonorrhoea: you don’t hear a lot about it these days – it’s not that prevalent – but it’s still there. It is relatively straightforward to treat, so if you have any concerns or suspicions about symptoms, then you do need to be going along to see your doctor because it can be treated and you don’t want to be passing it on to anybody.
For more information on different types of sexually transmitted infections, prevention of STIs, treatments and effects on fertility, see Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).