Oh Good, There Has Been A Huge Rise In Cases Of This STI

Instances of the STI are at the highest level ever recorded.
Peter Dazeley via Getty Images

Recently, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) revealed that there has been a 7.5% rise in cases of gonorrhoea in England this year, meaning that we are now at the highest levels of the condition ever recovered.

While gonorrhoea isn’t fatal, it can lead to infertility in both men and women, as well as an increased risk of other infections.

According to the NHS: “Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by bacteria called Neisseria gonorrhoeae or gonococcus. It used to be known as “the clap”.”

We spoke with sexual health expert and GP at LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor, Dr Bhavini Shah to learn more about the disease and how to both spot and treat the condition quickly.

How to spot the signs and symptoms of gonorrhoea

Dr Shah said: “Anyone who is sexually active can catch gonorrhoea. But you’re particularly at risk if you regularly change sexual partners or do not use adequate barrier methods of contraception, like condoms, when having sex.

This is because the condition is easily passed between people through unprotected vaginal, anal, and even oral sex, as well as sharing sex toys.

However, it can be prevented with condoms and dental dams, as well as practising good hygiene with sex toys and using a condom on them when sharing sex toys.

As for the symptoms of gonorrhoea, Dr Shah said: “Symptoms of gonorrhoea usually appear within two weeks of being infected.

“In women, common symptoms include an unusual vaginal discharge (thin or watery and green or yellow in colour); pain or burning when peeing; pain or tenderness in the abdominal area; bleeding between periods, heavier periods and bleeding after sex.”

In men, she said, symptoms may include unusual discharge from the penis which is white, yellow, or green in colour. Other symptoms include pain or burning when peeing, swollen foreskin and, in rare cases, pain in the testicles.

However, Dr Shah warned: “Important to note though, about 10% of infected men and 50% of infected women do not experience any obvious symptoms. This is why regular STI testing is necessary, especially if you’re particularly at risk.”

The importance of treating gonorrhoea

Given that the condition can be symptomless, it’s essential that you are regularly getting tested for STI’s and that, if you are infected, you get treated as soon as possible.

Dr Shah said: “It’s important to treat gonorrhoea quickly to prevent complications and long-term issues. Untreated, it can spread and cause serious problems.

“For example, although rare, gonorrhoea can spread to the eye if the eye comes into contact with infected discharge from the penis or vaginal fluid. Gonorrhoea is also particularly concerning in pregnant women as it can cause miscarriage, premature birth or blindness in the newborn baby.”