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What Causes Gonorrhoea?

Like most sexually transmitted infections (STIs), gonorrhoea is passed on by coming into contact with infected sexual fluids, such as semen or vaginal fluid.

Most people know that unprotected sex causes STIs, but this is far from the only reason you might get gonorrhoea. You can catch it from:

  • Unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex - even if there is no orgasm or ejaculation
  • Unprotected non-penetrative sexual contact
  • Sharing sex toys that aren’t washed or covered with a new condom with each use
  • Getting infected semen or vaginal fluid in your eye

If you’re pregnant, it’s also possible to pass gonorrhoea on to your unborn baby. If you notice gonorrhoea symptoms during pregnancy, or think you might be at risk, you need to see a doctor as soon as possible. Find out more about what to do here.

What increases your risk of gonorrhoea?

As well as the situations we’ve just discussed, there are certain factors that can make gonorrhoea more likely. They include:

  • Not using a condom - If you practise safer sex, you’re much less likely to get gonorrhoea
  • Having lots of sexual partners - Even if you know you don’t have an STI, there’s no guarantee that your partners will be as careful
  • Being under the age of 25 - Statistically, younger people are more likely to get STIs such as gonorrhoea
  • A previous gonorrhoea diagnosis - If you’ve had gonorrhoea before, your resistance to the bacteria that cause it is lowered

What doesn’t cause gonorrhoea?

While the idea of STIs can be a little worrying, it’s important to remember that most day-to-day activities remain perfectly safe. There are a lot of myths about the ways in which gonorrhoea is passed on.

Here are the most common things people wrongly claim can cause gonorrhoea:

  • Kissing
  • Hugging
  • Sharing bath water
  • Sharing towels
  • Swimming in the same pool as someone who is infected
  • Via toilet seats
  • Sharing cutlery

If you’re at risk, see a doctor

Now that you know what does and doesn’t cause gonorrhoea, you will know whether or not you’re at risk. If you are, it’s important that you make an appointment with one of our online doctors as soon as possible.

Remember, if gonorrhoea is caught early it can be treated easily. Left untreated, it can lead to serious health complications. Our doctors can provide the tests and treatment you need.