Untreated gonorrhoea can cause serious and permanent health problems.
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Australia's Intelligent STI Check - Fast, Convenient and Discreet

Gonorrhoea


Gonorrhoea is caused by bacteria which can infect the throat, anus, urethra, cervix and eyes. Gonorrhoea is second only to chlamydia as the
most common STI / STD and affects both men and women of all ages.

If Left Undiagnosed?

Untreated gonorrhoea can cause serious and permanent health problems in both women and men.

In women, gonorrhoea can spread into the uterus (womb) or fallopian tubes (egg canals) and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). The symptoms may be mild or can be very severe and can include abdominal pain and fever. PID can lead to internal abscesses (pus-filled pockets that are hard to cure) and chronic (long-lasting) pelvic pain. PID can damage the fallopian tubes enough that a woman will be unable to have children. It can also increase her risk of ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancy is a life-threatening condition in which a fertilised egg grows outside the uterus, usually in a fallopian tube.

In men, gonorrhoea can cause a painful condition called epididymitis in the tubes attached to the testicles. In rare cases, this may prevent a man from being able to father children.

If not treated, gonorrhoea can also spread to the blood or joints. This condition can be life-threatening.

Untreated gonorrhoea can also increase a person’s risk of acquiring or transmitting HIV—the virus that causes AIDS.

How is it Spread?

People get gonorrhoea by having vaginal, anal or oral sex with someone who already has the infection. In many cases, people with gonorrhoea do not show any noticeable symptoms of the infection however this does not stop the spread of the infection from one person to another.

Gonorrhoea can still be transmitted via fluids even if a man does not ejaculate and can also be spread from an untreated mother to her baby during childbirth.

What are the Symptoms?

In most cases people with gonorrhoea show no symptoms, and so it is passed on to others without knowing. If symptoms do appear they usually develop 2 to 10 days after infection and affect men and women differently.

For men, symptoms can include;

  • irritation or pain when urinating
  • a discharge from the penis
  • redness around the opening of the penis
  • anal discharge or discomfort
  • conjunctivitis and eye inflammation

For women, symptoms can include;

  • pain when urinating
  • pelvic pain, especially during sex
  • irregular vaginal bleeding
  • unusual vaginal discharge
  • anal discharge or discomfort
  • conjunctivitis and eye inflammation

How is it Tested?

The test for Gonorrhoea uses nucleic acid amplification based techniques (PCR) to test for the presence of the bacteria Neisseria Gonorrhoea. There is no swabbing involved, only a single urine sample is required.

The advantage of these type of DNA amplification tests is that they are generally more sensitive (and can therefore more accurately identify positive specimens), and are simple and non-invasive for the patient.

Treatment

Gonorrhoea is one of the more easily cured STI’s. Usually a single course of antibiotics is all that is needed. However if left untreated it can cause serious health problems such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can lead to abdominal pain and ectopic pregnancy in women.

Untreated, Gonorrhoea can also lead to meningitis and septicaemia and infertility in both men and women.

Reinfection

If you have had Gonorrhoea before, being cured doesn’t mean that you can’t get it again. For this reason sexual partners should be treated at the same time, so the untreated partner doesn’t reinfect the treated partner. Following treatment, it is recommended that both parties are tested again before commencing any new sexual relationship, as Gonorrhoea is highly contagious and reinfection is common.

Statutory Notification

Gonorrhoea is a notifiable disease, which means that doctors and laboratories are legally required to notify state and federal health departments about new cases. This information is treated confidentially and the statistics used for public health planning.