Many people who contract and transmit gonorrhoea do not have any visible symptoms and therefore are unaware that they are infected. Gonorrhoea is part of the symptomless group of STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections) which includes chlamydia and trichomoniasis. That’s why it is important to get regularly tested especially when you change sexual partners. Men and women share some of the same gonorrhoea symptoms (if they do appear), which include painful urination and unusual discharge; however there are a few more irregularities to look out for.
Gonorrhoea symptoms in men
- Green, yellow or white discharge from the penis
- Pain or burning when urinating
- Needing to urinate frequently
- Genital itching
- Swelling of the foreskin
- Pain in the testicles (although this is rare)
- Anus pain, bleeding or discharge
Gonorrhoea symptoms in women
Gonorrhoea in women can also manifest in pain during sexual intercourse as the genital area both inside and outside can become red, swollen and inflamed. If left untreated the infection can lead to severe inflammation of the fallopian tubes and ovaries, which can affect your fertility in the future.
Gonorrhoea in men and women
Gonorrhoea in men and women often resembles a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), as the similarly the symptoms include the need to urinate frequently as well as pain when urinating. In this way it is easy to dismiss your symptoms as something trivial, and many people think that they will clear on their own. However this is not the case, a course of antibiotics are needed to alleviate the symptoms.
Both men and women can develop an infection in the rectum, eyes or throat if they have unprotected anal or oral sex. This takes the form of pain, discomfort and it is often accompanied by discharge and bleeding. Pain and swelling around the eye area, as well as conjunctivitis can also develop if infected semen or vaginal fluid makes contact with the eyes.
Disseminated gonococcal infection (DGI) occurs when the gonorrhoea infection spreads to other part so the body and not just the genital areas. This can include your joints and skin. Areas will be covered in a rash, tendons will become inflamed and your joints will feel painful.
Symptoms in men and women usually develop within two to five days to appear from the initial infection, although they can take as long as 30 days to start becoming noticeable. It is important to get tested as soon as any of these symptoms appear after you have had unprotected (without a condom) sex or sexual activity. Find out more about how you or your partner can get tested here.
Practising safe sex by using a condom for sexual intercourse and activity is the most effective way of protecting yourself from infection. Find out how you can protect yourself and your partners from catching conorrhoea here.
How do you catch gonorrhoea?
Gonorrhoea is an STI that is passed through unprotected (without a condom) anal, oral and vaginal sex.
How do you know if you have gonorrhoea?
The symptoms of gonorrhoea include discharge, itching and pain when urinating. However men can also experience pain in the testicles and women may experience bleeding between periods.
How long do symptoms take to show?
Symptoms can appear two to five days after the initial infection, although these can take up to one month to appear.
Can I get gonorrhoea more than once?
Yes. If you have been successfully treated for the infection before it does not make you immune, and therefore you can catch the infection again.