Gonorrhoea is a common bacterial sexually transmitted disease. The most common groups affected are young people - young men aged between 20 and 24 years and young women aged between 16 and 19 years. The annually recorded figures have shown enormous rises since the early to mid 1990's, probably as peopel relaxed their use of condoms in response to the AIDS epidemic of the early 1980's.
Gonorrhoea symptoms will vary depending on which part of your body is affected and if you are male or female.
- In females the inside part of the cervix - called the endocervix - may be infected without symptoms in around 50% of cases. This is particularly important because undiagnosed infection in this area may cause damage and scarring to reproductive organs and cause difficulty with conception later.
- Increased vaginal discharge is the most common symptom with it occurring in around 50% of cases.
- Low abdominal pain may occur in around 25% of women with gonorrhoea.
- Infection of the urethra - the tube you pee through - will cause symptoms in around 12% of women.
- Rectal infection will occur - but usually through spread through the mucosal wall from the vagina rather than by anal sex.
- Infection in the throat does not give any symptoms in over 90% of cases.
- Infection of the tube you pee through - the urethra - will give a discharge in up to 80% of men with another 50% or so having pain when they pee. It is possible not to have any symptoms at all.
- Rectal infection in men is usually due to anal sexual activity - which can include rimming, penetration or partial penetration without a condom and also with fingers which have been contaminated with infected fluids. It usually does not cause symptoms, although when it does discharge and pain are the commonest.
- Infection in the throat is usually without symptoms - in over 90%.