Gonorrhoea is a bacterial STI that sometimes causes symptoms, but often doesn't. The only way to be sure is to get checked. There are treatments available, and condoms and other safe sex measures can help protect you from gonorrhoea.

You should read this if:

  • You think you might have an STI
  • You want good info on gonorrhoea
  • You want to know how gonorrhoea is treated

couple holding hands walking

What is Gonorrhoea? 

Gonorrhoea is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) that's caused by bacteria.  It’s transmitted through unprotected oral, vaginal or anal sex. Some common terms people use for gonorrhoea include ‘the clap’, ‘the jack’ or ‘the drip’. 

Symptoms of Gonorrhoea

Some people with gonorrhoea get symptoms and some don't. If you do have symptoms, you’re likely to experience them about 2-7 days after you’re exposed to the bacteria. You might:

  • Get a yellow or white discharge from your penis, vagina or anus
  • Have an itchy, swollen, red, penis, vagina or anus 
  • Find sex or peeing painful
  • Have pain in your stomach 
  • Bleed from the infected areas  
  • Get a sore throat.  

Will it go away by itself?

No, gonorrhoea causes serious problems if it's not treated. In women, it can cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease and infertility if not properly addressed. 

Getting tested

In order to test for gonorrhoea, the doctor or sexual health nurse will take a swab with a cotton bud from the cervix (in the vagina), or the penis. Guys might also do a urine test. 
If you find that you do have gonorrhoea you should talk to anyone you've had sex with in the last couple of months and let them know so they can get tested. Ask the doctor or nurse who tests you what to say if you're not sure. 

You can get tested for gonorrhoea at most doctors and medical centres. You can call 1300 65 88 86, or visit Sexual Health and Family Planning Australia for info about clinics near you. If you want to know more about getting a sexual health check, take a look at our fact sheet on sexual health.

Getting treated

Treatment for gonorrhoea involves a course of antibiotics and it will usually clear up after about a week. You should avoid having sex during this time as you could pass it on to any sexual partners you have.

How to avoid getting gonorrhoea

Condoms and dental dams are effective ways of protecting yourself from all STI’s, including gonorrhoea. Learn more about protecting yourself from sexually transmitted infections.

What can I do now?

Last reviewed: 06 August, 2015
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