An infection (sometimes known as the clap) caused by bacteria
which commonly affects the urethra, cervix, rectum and throat. More rarely it can infect
the blood, skin, joints and eyes.
Is it common?
Over the past 20 years the number of infections in Britain has fallen steadily. There
is evidence however that it is back on the increase. Although it is seen more commonly in
gay men it is by no means restricted to them only.
Where does it come from?
It can be very easily passed on through vaginal, anal and oral sex. Sometimes it only
takes close physical contact to spread. There is no evidence to show that it can be passed
on from toilet seats, sharing towels or cups. An infected mother can pass it on to her
babies eyes at birth. It can be spread to the eyes from the genitals via the fingers.
How does it show itself?
Symptoms of infection may show up at anytime between 1 and 14 days after exposure but
many women and some men will not realise they have it. Tests done at a clinic may show it
up straight away but often take one week before the results are fully known.
- some women may notice
Can it do much damage?
It can usually be treated very effectively with antibiotics (such as doxycycline) and cured completely. It is important
that further tests are done after treatment to see that the infection has cleared. Without
proper treatment it can cause long term complications for both men and women one of which
could be infertility.
Can it be prevented?
Like most other sexually transmitted infections a proper and consistent use of condoms
(including flavoured ones for oral sex) will reduce the chance of becoming infected.
Because many people may be totally unaware they are infected until lasting damage is
done it is important that current and recent sexual partners (perhaps over the past 6
months) should be offered the chance to be tested. A clinic health adviser can help you to
work out how best to achieve this.
It will take about 1 month for your body to heal from this infection after treatment.
During this period you would be strongly advised to avoid any sexual contact including the
time taken for a partner to be seen.