What is gonorrhoea?

Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection that can infect the throat, anus, genitals and eyes.


What are the symptoms?

Often there are no symptoms and people can catch and pass on gonorrhoea without knowing it. When symptoms are present they usually develop 2-10 days after the infection is transmitted.
Symptoms can include:

  • penile or vaginal discharge
  • pain on urination
  • redness at the opening of the penis
  • irregular vaginal bleeding

Pain in the testes and pain during sex can also be a symptom of gonorrhoea. Infection of the anus can cause anal pain and discharge. Infection of the eye can cause conjunctivitis and eye inflammation. Gonorrhoea infection of the throat rarely causes any symptoms.


How is gonorrhoea spread?

Gonorrhoea can be transmitted through any sexual activity including anal, vaginal and oral sex. Infection of the eye can occur if you touch your own or another person’s genitals and then touch your eye without washing your hands.
It can also be passed on to a baby during childbirth and cause infection of the eye and/or lung.


When should I have a gonorrhoea test?

You should have a gonorrhoea test if:

  • you have had unprotected sex
  • you have recently changed sexual partners
  • you have more than one current sexual partner
  • you have signs or symptoms of genital infection
  • you have been diagnosed as having another STI, for example chlamydia, herpes or warts
  • you have a sexual partner who has been diagnosed as having gonorrhoea or another STI

Remember, most people with gonorrhoea do not know they are infected.
You can ask your doctor about a gonorrhoea test even if you are seeing the doctor for something else.
If you are having a cervical screening test you can ask for a gonorrhoea test at the same time.


How is gonorrhoea tested?

Gonorrhoea is easily tested by a urine sample or a swab. The urine test is most accurate if it is collected at least 20 minutes after going to the toilet. A swab may be collected by a doctor or nurse during a cervical screening test or you can do the swab yourself.


How is gonorrhoea treated?

Gonorrhoea infection is treated with a single dose of antibiotics given as an injection.
It’s important to avoid sexual intercourse for one week after treatment so that you don’t pass on the infection or become reinfected yourself.
Your sexual partner/s of the last 2 months should be notified so they can also be tested and if necessary receive treatment. Your doctor or nurse can help you with this and there are websites where partner notification can be done anonymously.
You should not have sex with any recent partners until they have also been tested and treated for 7 days.
Gonorrhoea is a notifiable STI. This means that the doctor has a legal requirement to notify the Department of Health of the gonorrhoea infection. This information will be confidential.
You should have a follow up test 2 weeks after treatment, and another test at 3 months if there is any chance of reinfection.
If you have a positive test for gonorrhoea it’s also a good idea to get a test for blood-borne viruses such as HIV and syphilis.


Prevention of gonorrhoea

  • Use condoms.
  • Make sure semen, blood, vaginal or anal fluid are not passed between partners.
  • Talk about any past infections with your sexual partner/s.
  • Get tested regularly.


Where can I get tested?

  • You can visit SHINE SA for further information, testing and treatment.

You can also:

  • Make an appointment with your local doctor, health care provider or Aboriginal Health service.
  • Contact Adelaide Sexual Health Centre: drop in or phone.
    275 North Terrace, Adelaide
    Tel: 7117 2800