Surge in gonorrhoea cases

Surge in gonorrhoea as cases reach record levels in the UK

The number of young people aged 15-24 who have gonorrhoea has risen to record levels, according to a new study by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

The study shows that the total number of gonorrhoea diagnoses from January to September 2022 (56,327) was 21% higher when compared to the same period in 2019 (46,541), the year when the previous highest number of diagnoses was reported.

Gonorrhoea is a common bacterial infection caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae or gonococcus and is usually spread via sexual contact and genital fluids (semen or vaginal fluid).

It is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the UK and is especially widespread among sexually active teenagers and young adults, as this group often has more frequent changes in sexual partners.

The resurgence of the infection – sometimes referred to by its slang name ‘the clap’ – has been attributed to young people having more partners after the easing of Covid-19 restrictions in 2021.

Typical symptoms of gonorrhoea can include a green or yellow discharge from the vagina or penis, pain when urinating, inflammation of the foreskin in men, and in women with a uterus or ovaries, lower abdominal pain and bleeding between periods.

However, as many people with gonorrhoea are asymptomatic (do not experience symptoms), the infection is often transmitted by people who do not even know they are infected.

Gonorrhoea can be easily treated with antibiotics, but if left undiagnosed or untreated, it can lead to serious long-term health complications, including pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and infertility in women, and painful inflammation in the testicles (epididymitis) in men.

The best way to protect yourself from gonorrhoea and other STIs is to always use a condom during intercourse and get tested regularly if having sex with new or casual partners, even if you are not showing any symptoms.

You can get free condoms at your local sexual health clinic and, if you’re under 25, you can also get them for free online.

Regular testing for STIs and HIV is essential to maintain good sexual health. It’s recommended that you test for gonorrhoea if:

  • you or your partner have symptoms of gonorrhoea
  • you’ve had unprotected sex with a new partner
  • you have another STI
  • a sexual partner tells you they have an STI

If your results show that an infection has been detected, you must contact your GP or local sexual health clinic for confirmatory testing, further guidance and treatment options as soon as possible.

You should also abstain from sexual contact to avoid passing the infection(s) on to other people and contact any sexual partners to inform them of the result.

If you are experiencing symptoms that are causing you severe pain or discomfort, or that require a face-to-face examination, we advise you to contact your GP or local sexual health clinic as soon as possible.

It’s easy to order a Gonorrhoea test online now for £28.00, which also includes a test for chlamydia – another common and often asymptomatic STI.

Simply order your test and we will ship your kit out to you in discreet, plain packaging. The kit will contain everything you need to collect your samples and return them to our expert UK laboratory for analysis. Results will be emailed to you within 2 working days.

The symptoms of gonorrhoea are similar to several other common STIs including chlamydia, trichomoniasis and mycoplasma genitalium.  AlphaBiolabs can test for 7 of these most common STIs with one simple test that you can order here.

For confidential advice on whether this test is right for you, contact our Customer Services team on 0333 600 1300 or email

Please note you must be at least 16 years of age to purchase a home STI test kit from AlphaBiolabs.

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