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Symptoms Of Gonorrhoea

Man and woman in underwear stand back-to-back

Gonorrhoea is the second most common bacterial STI in the UK (after chlamydia). Recognising the symptoms of gonorrhoea early is important to minimise discomfort and the chances of future complications, especially for women.

Gonorrhoea tests for men and women can be ordered online without the need to visit a doctor in person. Crucially, you should see a doctor immediately if you are already displaying gonorrhoea symptoms.

Symptoms of gonorrhoea in men

Around 90% of infected men experience gonorrhoea symptoms. The effects of gonorrhoea normally develop within two weeks of infection, although occasionally they don’t appear for many months.

Common symptoms of male gonorrhoea include:

  • Unusual discharge from the tip of the penis. Usually green, white or yellow
  • Pain or a burning sensation while urinating
  • Inflammation of the foreskin
  • In rare cases, pain or tenderness in the testicles
  • Infection in the rectum or throat. Pain or a sore throat will be the most common symptoms of this.

However, some men don’t experience any symptoms of gonorrhoea and may not know they have the disease at all. As such, it’s important to get a gonorrhoea test if you think you’re at-risk.

Gonorrhoea symptoms in women

Gonorrhoea symptoms are less common in women than men. Only 50% of infected women experience symptoms of gonorrhoea. As a result, gonorrhoea in women can remain undetected for a prolonged period of time, increasing their risk of developing serious health complications.

Women should still watch out for these common symptoms of gonorrhoea:

  • Unusual discharge from the vagina. Usually green, white or yellow. Sometimes thick, sometimes thin and watery.
  • Pain or a burning sensation while urinating
  • Pain or tenderness in the lower stomach
  • In rare cases, bleeding between periods or heavier periods than usual.
  • Infection in the rectum or throat. Pain or a sore throat will be the most common symptoms of this

The longer gonorrhoea is left untreated, the more dangerous health implications become. Untreated gonorrhoea in women causes pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in 10-20% of women, which can lead to long-term pelvic pain, potential miscarriage and infertility. The need to get tested for gonorrhoea is therefore especially important for women.

Gonorrhoea Test

Testing for gonorrhoea is very straightforward. You should take a test two weeks after you have been potentially exposed to gonorrhoea (e.g. after unprotected sex), since gonorrhoea tests won’t be effective during this gonorrhoea incubation period.

However, if gonorrhoea symptoms appear within this two-week period you should see a doctor immediately.

Testing for Men: The most common gonorrhoea test for men without symptoms is a urine sample. If you have sex with men, depending on the type of sex you have, a swab from your throat and bottom may also be recommended. You can order a gonorrhoea test here (link to the Men’s home test kit page ​​​​​​​ You can order a urine test here.

Testing for Women: An accurate gonorrhoea test for women without symptoms is a vaginal swab. If you have symptoms then see a doctor as soon as possible. You can order a swab test here.

Gonorrhoea Treatment

Gonorrhoea is treated with an antibiotic injection followed by a single dose of antibiotic tablets. If taken correctly, 95% of gonorrhoea treatment is successful, and most gonorrhoea symptoms - such as discharge - should clear up within a few days.

Always take a gonorrhoea test a couple of weeks after completing treatment to check it has cleared. You should also avoid having sex until you have been cleared of gonorrhoea and notify any sexual partners so they can get treated too.

Click here to read more from our doctors on gonorrhoea.