Symptoms of gonorrhoea usually develop within about 2 weeks of being infected, although they sometimes do not appear until many months later.
About 1 in 10 infected men and 5 in 10 infected women will not experience any obvious symptoms, which means the condition can go untreated for some time.
Symptoms in women
In women, symptoms of gonorrhoea can include:
- an unusual vaginal discharge, which may be thin or watery and green or yellow in colour
- pain or a burning sensation when passing urine
- pain or tenderness in the lower abdominal area – this is less common
- bleeding between periods, heavier periods and bleeding after sex – this is less common
Symptoms in men
In men, symptoms of gonorrhoea can include:
- an unusual discharge from the tip of the penis, which may be white, yellow or green
- pain or a burning sensation when urinating
- inflammation (swelling) of the foreskin
- pain or tenderness in the testicles – this is rare
Infection in the rectum, throat or eyes
Both men and women can develop an infection in the rectum, throat or eyes by having unprotected anal or oral sex.
If infected semen or vaginal fluid comes into contact with the eyes, you can also develop conjunctivitis.
Infection in the rectum can cause discomfort, pain or discharge. Infection in the eyes can cause irritation, pain, swelling and discharge, and infection in the throat usually causes no symptoms.
Getting medical advice
It's important to be tested for gonorrhoea if you think there's a chance you're infected, even if you have no obvious symptoms or the symptoms have gone away on their own.
If gonorrhoea is left undiagnosed and untreated, you can continue to spread the infection and there's a risk of potentially serious complications, including infertility.
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Gonorrhoea in babies
Gonorrhoea can be passed from a mother to her baby during childbirth.
Newborn babies normally show symptoms in their eyes during the first 2 weeks. The eyes become red and swollen, and have a thick, pus-like discharge.
Gonorrhoea can be treated with antibiotics when you're pregnant or when you're breastfeeding. The antibiotics won't harm your baby.
Page last reviewed: 15 September 2021
Next review due: 15 September 2024