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Gonorrhoea is a common bacterial sexually transmitted infection (STI). It often has no immediate symptoms, but it can cause a lot of damage to the reproductive system if left untreated. It’s easy to diagnose and simple to cure with antibiotics.

This can help if:

  • there’s something going on ‘down there’ and you think you might have an STI
  • you want good info on gonorrhoea
  • you want to know how gonorrhoea is treated.
Girls sitting on wall

What is gonorrhoea?

Gonorrhoea is caused by bacteria being transmitted from one person to another through unprotected oral, vaginal or anal sex. Some common terms used 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 get them about two to seven 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 or red penis, vagina or anus
  • find sex or urination painful
  • have pain in your stomach
  • have bleeding from the penis, vagina or anus
  • get a sore throat.

If you’ve been having sex with new partners, or have recently had unprotected sex with someone for the first time, you should get a sexual health check to make sure you haven’t contracted gonorrhoea (even if you don’t have any noticeable symptoms).

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 it’s not dealt with properly.

Getting tested (and treated)

To get tested for gonorrhoea, you need to see a doctor or a sexual health nurse. They’ll take a swab with a cotton bud from the cervix (in the vagina) or the penis. They might also do a urine test.

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 still pass the infection on to a sexual partner.

To find a sexual health clinic near you, call 1300 65 88 86, or visit Family Planning Alliance Australia. If you want to know more about getting a sexual health check, take a look at our fact sheet on sexual health.

How to avoid getting (and spreading) gonorrhoea

Condoms and dental dams (a thin plastic barrier) are effective ways of protecting yourself and your sexual partners from vaginally, anally and orally transmitted STIs, including gonorrhoea. Learn more about protecting yourself from STIs.

If you know you have gonorrhoea, you need to tell your previous and current sexual partners so that they can get tested, too.

What can I do now?