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Gonorrhoea, a highly contagious sexually transmitted disease (STD), is one of the most common STDs, sometimes referred to as "the clap," gonorrhoea may produce signs and symptoms such as a burning sensation when urinating or a thick discharge from the penis or vagina. Many people experience mild or no signs or symptoms. Left untreated, gonorrhoea can cause serious complications, especially in women.


The cause of gonorrhoea is a bacterium (also referred to as gonococcus) that spreads through sexual contact. The disease can pass from a mother to her child during birth.

The bacterium is spread through semen or vaginal fluids during unprotected sexual contact, heterosexual or homosexual, with an infected partner.


Signs and symptoms of gonorrhoea may include: -

Thick, cloudy or bloody discharge from the penis or vagina 

Pain or burning sensation when urinating

Frequent urination 

Pain during sexual intercourse

The first gonorrhoea symptoms generally appear within two to 10 days after exposure to the bacterium. However, some people may be infected for months before signs or symptoms occur.


In men, first, there's often a tingling sensation in the urethra, the passageway that carries urine from your bladder to the outside of your body. Later, urination becomes painful and you may notice a discharge from your penis. As the infection progresses, urethral pain usually becomes more pronounced and the discharge becomes more profuse and thick.


In women, the signs and symptoms, if any, may be so mild you may not realise you have the infection. Often, the only clue that you may have gonorrhoea comes when someone who you've had sexual contact with develops the disease. The infection usually affects the cervix and other reproductive organs as well as the urethra. In some women, gonorrhoea causes frequent, urgent and painful urination along with an abnormal discharge from the vagina or urethra.


Not receiving adequate treatment for gonorrhoea may lead to complications. These may include: -

Inflammation of the epididymis. In men, epididymitis — inflammation of the rear portion of the testicles where the sperm ducts are located (epididymis) — is an acute condition treatable with antibiotics and pain relievers. If untreated, it may lead to infertility.

Pelvic inflammatory disease. In women, the bacteria can spread into the uterus and fallopian tubes, causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which may result in scarring of the tubes, greater risk of ectopic pregnancy and infertility. PID may lead to abdominal pain, backache, irregular menstrual periods, pain during intercourse and foul-smelling vaginal discharge. It's a serious infection that requires immediate treatment by a doctor.

The spread of the infection during childbirth. A pregnant woman with untreated gonorrhoea may spread the infection to her baby as the baby passes through the birth canal during delivery. In an infant, gonorrhoea may cause complications such as blindness and widespread infection of the joints and blood.

Anorectal gonorrhoea. In both sexes, anorectal gonorrhoea may result from anal intercourse with an infected person or from the infection spreading from the genital area. It may cause some discomfort in and discharge from the anal area, but in many cases no signs or symptoms are present.

Irritation of your throat and tonsils. Oral sex can lead to pharyngeal gonorrhoea with a sore throat, pain on swallowing and redness of the throat and tonsils.

Eye inflammation. Infection may sometimes spread to the eye by touching or rubbing the eye with your hand after it has been in contact with infected discharge. Gonorrhoea in such cases can cause a red, inflamed eye (conjunctivitis). In babies who contract gonorrhoea during childbirth, gonorrhoea eye infections can lead to blindness.

Widespread infection in your body. Rarely, the bacterium that causes gonorrhoea can spread through the bloodstream to cause infection in other parts of your body. Fever, rash, skin sores, joint pain, swelling and stiffness are possible results. 


To prevent the spread of gonorrhoea, use latex condoms and avoid oral sex.

Gonorrhea is highly contagious, and yet may cause no signs or symptoms.

The more sexual partners you have, the greater your risk, casual contact.


Have a discharge from your vagina, penis or have other signs and symptoms of gonorrhoea.

Are concerned that a partner may have been exposed to the infection.

Gonorrhoea has been diagnosed in a partner.

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