Gonorrhoea is a bacterial infection sometimes called "the clap".

How you get it

Through unprotected (condomless) vaginal or anal penetrative sex, or oral sex.


Many people have none, but there could be pain when urinating, a unusual discharge from the vagina or any discharge from the penis, or pain in the lower abdomen. Males may experience sore or swollen testicles. If it is in the throat it could cause soreness but usually there are no symptoms at all.


Testing for gonorrhoea is incredibly straightforward. In most clinics you’ll be asked for a urine sample which is sent off for testing. They may also take swabs from your throat and your anus. 

If you have symptoms (such as discharge from your penis) you’ll need some extra swabs, taken by a clinician, to test if you have an antibiotic resistant form of gonorrhoea.


Gonorrhoea is easy to treat, but it's very important that you get the correct treatment and tests afterwards to make sure the infection has gone. You’ll either be prescribed a one-off dose or short course of antibiotics, usually as an injection plus some tablets. After treatment you’ll be called back for a retest to make sure that you are all clear of infection.

If left untreated, it can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease in females, and serious swelling and pain in the testicles for males. Untreated gonorrhoea can also increase your chance of becoming infected with HIV.



The best way to avoid becoming infected with gonorrhoea is to use a condom during vaginal, anal and oral sex.

Reduce the risk of a condom bursting by:

  • making sure it's properly unrolled

  • squeezing the air out of the 'teat' before putting it on

  • keeping your fingernails short and smooth

  • using lube suitable for use with condoms

  • never using oils, oil-based lubricants, or oily foodstuffs during sex


The risks from oral sex can be reduced if you:

  • always use a fresh condom

  • avoid oral sex if there are any signs of infection

  • avoid oral sex if the person giving it has any cuts or sores in their mouth

My sexual partner has gonorrhoea but I don’t have any symptoms – what should I do?

If your current partner has gonorrhoea you should be treated as well, even if you have had a negative test result.

© 2019 Know Your Risk: Testing Week Scotland