The UK Government Really Wants You To Get Tested For This STI ASAP

Cases are climbing.
Anastassiya Bezhekeneva via Getty Images

An urgent has been issued by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) warning anyone with new or multiple sexual partners to get tested for gonorrhoea.

Cases of the STI are surging in England according to the government agency, with reported numbers of gonorrhoea climbing since the easing of Covid-19 restrictions in 2021.

Provisional data published today indicates that gonorrhoea diagnoses from January to September 2022 were 21% higher than those reported over the same period in 2019.

Data also indicates that during the first nine months of 2022, gonorrhoea cases were higher than those reported over the same period in each of the last three years.

Yeah, seriously, when they say it’s on the rise, they’re not messing about.

Although STIs are usually easily treated with antibiotics, some infections, including gonorrhoea, can have serious consequences as they can cause serious health issues such as infertility and pelvic inflammatory disease.

What are the symptoms of gonorrhoea?

The NHS says typical symptoms include a thick green or yellow discharge from the vagina or penis, pain when urinating and, in women, bleeding between periods or heavier periods than usual.

But around 10% of men and 50% of women who have gonorrhoea do not experience any symptoms at all.

How do you test for gonorrhoea?

If you have any of the symptoms of gonorrhoea or suspect you might have contracted the STI, you should visit your local sexual health clinic (find your nearest clinic here) for a test.

Gonorrhoea can be easily diagnosed by testing a sample of discharge picked up using a swab. In men, testing a sample of urine can also diagnose the condition.

Dr John White, NHS sexual health consultant and medical director at Preventx said: “Evidence shows that gonorrhoea of the throat is prevalent in the UK and can be passed on via oral sex and deep kissing.

“This type of gonorrhoea is asymptomatic, meaning many people can be unaware they have it and unwittingly pass it on to others; however, it can be easily detected by a swab of the throat – similar to that used to test for COVID-19.

“This type of gonorrhoea test isn’t currently carried out as standard for heterosexual men and women across the UK but could be key to tackling positivity rates. We would welcome this type of test being made available to more people – including those without symptoms – to help tackle this surge in infections.”

To find out if a free test kit is available in your area, visit

How is gonorrhoea treated?

Once diagnosed, gonorrhoea is usually treated with a single antibiotic injection and a single antibiotic tablet. If the treatment works, most of your symptoms should improve within a few days.

You will usually be required to attend a follow-up appointment a week or so later. Another test will be carried out to ensure the STI has been cleared. You should avoid having sex until after this time.

If you have any worries or concerns, contact the FPA sexual health helpline on 0345 122 8687.

Dr Claire Dewsnap, president of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, said: “The rise in gonorrhoea cases provides an important reminder of the importance of testing for STIs and wearing a condom every time you have sex.

“By getting tested at least once a year, regardless of whether you’re showing symptoms, you can help minimise the risk of catching or passing on STIs when having sex.

“Delaying access to the right care and treatment also risks developing longer term problems which can be more difficult to address. If you are concerned about STI transmission, sexual health clinics are on hand to help.”