Gonorrhoea is caused by a type of bacteria and it can affect both males and females. It is the second most commonly reported STI in Australia.

Page last updated: 20 July 2014

Fast facts

  • The rate of diagnosis of gonorrhoea increased by 67% from 2008 to 2012 1. This is a big increase in both males and females.
  • Substantially higher rates of diagnosis of gonorrhoea were recorded in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population compared with the non-Indigenous population.

Causes and reducing risk factors

It is usually spread by vaginal, anal or oral sex without a condom. Always use a condom with water-based lubricant to avoid getting Gonorrhoea.

Identifying the symptoms

  • Invisible

    Most people don’t have any immediate symptoms. If you have had unprotected sex, see your doctor about a test.
  • For males

    If you are a male, look out for a smelly fluid from your penis or swollen testicles.
  • For females

    If you are a female, you may experience vaginal fluid discharge and pain when urinating.

Dangers if not treated

If left untreated it could lead to pelvic inflammatory disease in females and infertility in both males and females.

Untreated gonorrhoea may also increase your chances of getting or giving HIV.

Getting checked

A simple swab or urine test will determine if you have gonorrhoea. To get checked out or for confidential advice talk to your doctor or visit your local sexual health clinic.

There is a list of Public Sexual Health Clinics across Australian provided by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians.

Treatment is easy

Gonorrhoea is easily treated with antibiotics. It’s important to avoid sex until you’ve finished your full course of treatment and for at least a week following. If you can’t do this then a condom must be used.

Your responsibilities

If you have gonorrhoea it is your responsibility to let all your sexual partners from at least the past six months know so that they can be tested and treated if needed. For advice on how to make it easier to tell them visit the let them know website.

In most cases you’re not obliged to notify teachers or your boss if you’ve been diagnosed with an STI, but there are some rare exceptions for certain professionals who have been diagnosed with a blood-borne virus like HIV or hepatitis B. Ask your doctor for advice if you are unsure.

Prevention tips

Always use a condom with water-based lubricant to avoid getting gonorrhoea.

[1] HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmissible infections in Australia –Annual Surveillance Report 2013.