Gonorrhoea (or the clap) infections are caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae and is sexually transmitted.

Although it is most commonly diagnosed in men who have sex with men, young ATSI people, and travellers returning from areas with high rates of infection, we’re seeing some populations in Australia with increasing diagnoses, and central Sydney is one of those areas.

Gonorrhoea often does present more symptomatically than chlamydia, but can also be asymptomatic in some people.

Symptoms can include;

  • Dysuria (painful or difficult urination)
  • Urethral or vaginal discharge
  • Ano-rectal symptoms
  • Conjunctivitis which can be sight threatening

Left untreated it can cause more significant complications including;


  • Epididymo-orchitis (infection of the spermatic cord and testes)
  • Prostatitis (very rarely)


  • Pelvic inflammatory disease

Both Men and Women

  • Disseminated disease through the body – a rash that can be pustular, and septic arthritis in the joints (joint infections)
  • Meningitis (very rarely)
  • Endocarditis (very rarely)

How is it diagnosed?

By testing specifically for traces of the bacteria in someone without symptoms, or culturing for the bacteria in someone with symptoms. We can test this using a urine sample, throat swabs or rectal swabs.

For women the better test is an endocervical swab which is swabbing the surface of the cervix.

What do I do if I have gonorrhoea?

Your doctor will inform you of the results with a phone call if a follow up appointment hasn’t already been arranged.

You will be provided with antibiotics to treat the infection, and advised not to have sex with anyone for the next 7 days, even if you are using barrier protection like condoms.

Also avoid sex with any partners from the last 2 months until they have been tested and treated if necessary.

You will need to inform any partners over the last 2 months that they should get tested also.

What next?

If you had symptoms, they should have resolved. If they didn’t then it’s advised to see your doctor to check if there was treatment failure (very very rare), reinfection, resistance (none in Australia yet) or if there is another cause. Chlamydia is often tested at the same time.

If you’re interested in doing an STI screen, or are worried you might have symptoms book in with our doctors for an STI check. If you want to know how often you should get tested, have a look at our page on how often should I have a sexual health check for more information.

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