Gonorrhoea, colloquially known as the clap, is one of the most widespread sexually transmitted infections worldwide. It is caused by bacteria (Neisseria gonorrhoeae, also known as gonococcus).

How is gonorrhoea transmitted?

Gonorrhoea is transmitted through oral, vaginal or anal intercourse.

What are its symptoms and its consequences?

  • Unusual vaginal, penile or anal discharge with an unusual smell and sometimes a purulent appearance
  • Pain of the vagina or glans
  • Pain during urination
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Anal itching and irritation
  • Sore throat, reddening and irritation of mouth and throat
  • Irregular bleeding outside of menstruation

Women often experience no or only minor symptoms. Men’s symptoms are usually more pronounced.

If untreated, the infection may affect the prostate and epididymis. The infection can lead to infertility in both sexes. Less frequent complications include inflammations of the joints, skin, heart and conjunctiva.

How is gonorrhoea tested for?

Testing for gonorrhoea involves analysis of a mucosal swab, a urinalysis or a blood test.

How is gonorrhoea treated?

The infection can usually be cured with antibiotics. If symptoms persist despite treatment, a doctor should be consulted, as this could be a sign of developing resistance, which needs to be examined.

Should sexual partners get treatment as well?

The person concerned should consider, together with her or his physician, where the infection might have come from and whom it might already have been passed on to. Those sexual partners should be informed about the diagnosis so they can get a medical exam and, if necessary, treatment.

In case of ongoing sexual relationships, both partners need to (a) be treated simultaneously and (b) adhere to the safer sex rules until they are both cured. That way the partners won’t repeatedly re-infect each other.
Non-treatment may lead to health problems later on.

For some conversation tips and information on further support options, see lovelife.ch.

How can the infection be prevented?

Condoms and other safer sex measures reduce the risk of getting infected with gonorrhoea Therefore:

  1. Vaginal and anal sex with a condom
  2. And because everybody loves different things: do the personalised Safer Sex Check. at lovelife.ch

But an infection is nevertheless possible, and it’s important to detect it early.

Sexual partners need to be treated simultaneously to avoid so-called “ping-pong” infections, where the partners repeatedly reinfect each other.

People with changing or multiple simultaneous sexual partners should talk to their doctor or another specialist about HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and get advice on whether tests may be necessary.

Source: Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), lovelife.ch