Sexual Health

STI & STD Lowdown: What Is Gonorrhea?

In the third of our weekly series to highlight the various STIs and STDs that can be contracted, we are focusing on gonorrhoea – the one with the horrible name.

The good news is gonorrhoea is not very common. The not so good news is that it is a very infectious bacterial infection and while being easy to test for, harder to treat. Not to fear, however, for we explain all below:

How can you get it?

Like many other STIs and STDs, gonorrhea is easy to catch from penetrative sex without condom, as well as anal and oral sex and sharing sex toys. The bacteria that cause the infection are present in the semen and vaginal juices, so it’s important take the necessary precautions to protect yourself.

How do you know when you have it?

As with other STIs, not everyone will experience symptoms. According to the HSE, one in ten men and women will not experience any very obvious symptoms. The only true reliable way to know is by getting checked. Some symptoms to look out for are:

For women:

  • unusual vaginal discharge, especially in colour
  • pain when urinating
  • pain in lower stomach
  • bleeding in between periods

For men:

  • any discharge from the tip of the penis (white, yellow or green)
  • pain when urinating
  • swollen foreskin
  • painful testicles (although this is rare)


What do Gonorrhoea tests involve?

For men:

  • urine test
  • sample of discharge (if you have it)

For women:

  • sample from inside the vagina

How will it be treated?

Gonorrhoea can sometimes ess easy to treat than chlamydia, as many types are resistant to antibiotics. It’s therefore important to get as tested as soon as possible to ensure you start your treatment ASAP. The treatment will most likely be an antiobiotic in the form of a pill or injection.

It is important to notify whoever you had sex with to get them treatment if they need it, as gonorrhoea is very easy to catch again even after treatment. While it can go away by itself, it is very unlikely and when not treated, can cause longer term health problems such as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, which can lead to fertility and pregnancy issues .

How can I avoid getting it?

  • make sure your partner got tested for STIs and is ‘all clear’
  • avoid sharing sex toys
  • always use a condom for vaginal, oral and anal sex

Still here? Check this out: STI & STD Lowdown: What Is Chlamydia?