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Alert: gonorrhoea cases are soaring in England

Diagnoses of the STI have surged since lockdown restrictions eased

Amy Houghton
Written by
Amy Houghton

Health officials are urging sexually active people to get tested as cases of gonorrhoea are on the rise in England.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) issued a warning after it was revealed that diagnoses of the STI reached more than 56,300 in the first nine months of 2022 – which is 21 percent higher than for the same period in 2019. 

Experts say that people who are having sex with new or casual partners should practise safe sex and get tested regularly in order to avoid the infection. Dr Katy Sinka, head of the STI section at the UKHSA, points out that ‘you can get free condoms at your local sexual health clinic and if you’re under 25, you can also get them online’.

The warnings follow news that a number of cases of super-gonorrhoea, a new strain of the infection, were found in London and the Midlands last year. Stay safe out there: here is everything you need to know about the rising cases of gonorrhoea in the UK.

What is gonorrhoea?

Gonorrhoea is an infection spread by vaginal, oral or anal sex. It can be treated by antibiotics but if ignored, the STI can lead to infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease and could be passed to a child during pregnancy. 

What are the symptoms of gonorrhoea? 

Symptoms include yellow or greenish discharge from the genital area, pain when urinating or bleeding between periods. However, the NHS estimates that around half of infected women and one in 10 infected men show no symptoms at all. 

How can I get tested for gonorrhoea? 

Testing is free and can be accessed through your GP, local sexual health clinics and higher education medical centres. 

Self-sampling kits are also available at the pharmacy or via the post for those wanting a more discreet option. However, the accuracy of these tests is often disputed and it is recommended that you attend a test in person. 

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