Health conditions


  • Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmissible infection (STI).
  • It is easy to test for and most infections can be cured with antibiotics.
  • If left untreated, gonorrhoea can cause infertility, meaning you can’t have a baby.
  • Regular STI testing and using condoms will help protect you and your partners.

Gonorrhoea (also known as ‘the clap’) is a sexually transmissible infection (STI) caused by the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria.

How do you get it?

Gonorrhoea is spread by unprotected vaginal, oral (mouth) or anal (bum) sex. Unprotected sex is sex without a condom or dam.

How can you prevent it?

  • Have regular STI tests.
  • Always use condoms and/ or dams and water-based lube when having sex.
  • Talk to your sexual partners about sexual health.
What are the signs and symptoms?

Most people don’t know they have gonorrhoea because they don’t see or feel anything different.

You may notice one or more of the following symtoms:

  • burning or pain when peeing
  • yellow or white discharge from the penis
  • pain or redness at the opening of the penis
  • unusual vaginal discharge
  • pain during vaginal sex
  • pain in the lower belly
  • sore throat
  • unusual discharge from the rectum (bum).

If you have any of these symptoms, visit a doctor as soon as possible to ask for an STI test.

Even if you do not have symptoms, gonorrhoea can be in your body. If untreated, it can be passed on to other people through sex.

How do you get tested?

The only way to know if you have gonorrhoea is by getting an STI test at your GP, Aboriginal medical service or sexual health clinic.

When you get a test from a health care worker, they will ask for a urine (pee) sample and may recommend that you get a swab of your mouth, vagina or rectum, depending on the types of sex you have had.

It’s a good idea to get tested for other STIs (like syphilis, hepatitis B and HIV) at the same time. This involves getting a blood test.

How do you get treated?

Most gonorrhoea infections can be cured with antibiotics. You need to take all the antibiotics and then have another STI test to make sure you are cured.

You should not have sex, even with a condom, until you have finished all the antibiotics and your doctor says that it is ok.

How do you tell your sexual partners?

If you test positive for gonorrhoea, it is important to let your sexual partners know so they can get tested and treated (if needed) too. This is to make sure gonorrhoea does not impact their health and continue to spread. If your regular sexual partners do not get treated, you can get gonorrhoea again.

You can tell your partners yourself – if you feel safe and comfortable to do so. If you don’t want your partners to know your name, you can ask your health care worker to do it or send an anonymous message from the Let Them Know website (external site).

What if you don’t get treated?

If left untreated, gonorrhoea can cause painful, serious and permanent health problems. Gonorrhoea can spread and cause damage that makes you unable to have a baby (infertile). This damage can happen if it spreads to the:

  • cervix, uterus or fallopian tubes and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • testicles (balls) and cause epididymo-orchitis.

Gonorrhoea can also spread to the joints, heart, and blood which can cause permanent damage.

Getting tested and treated early can help prevent these health issues.

What if you are pregnant

If you are pregnant and have gonorrhoea it can pass on to your baby and cause serious health problems, including blindness.

If you are pregnant or thinking about having a baby, get tested for gonorrhoea and talk to you partner/s about getting tested for STIs.

Translated information about gonorrhoea

Where to get help

Last reviewed: 13-02-2024

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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