Gonorrhoea is on the rise in the UK, with reported cases rising more than a fifth on pre-pandemic levels. Data shows numbers between January and September 2022 were higher than the same period in the last three years, and higher than pre-pandemic levels.
In the first nine months of 2022, 56,327 cases of the STI were reported, up more than a fifth from 2019s 46,541 reported cases. Leading the reported cases were 15 to 24 year olds, as they tend to swap sexual partners more often than other age groups, increasing the risk of sexually transmitted infections.
While gonorrhoea and other STIs can be treated with antibiotics, they can cause long lasting health issues such as pelvic inflammatory diseases and even infertility. According to the NHS, typical symptoms of gonorrhoea include a thick green or yellow discharge from the vagina or penis, pain when peeing and, in women, bleeding between periods.
The NHS also advises anyone having sex with new or casual partners to wear a condom and get tested often in order to stop the spread of gonorrhoea. Testing can be done at a NHS sexual health clinic.
Dr Katy Sinka, consultant epidemiologist at UKHSA, told Sky News: "Condoms aren’t just about preventing unwanted pregnancy; they are the main defence against STIs. If you have had condom-less sex with a new or casual partner, it is even more important to get tested to detect any potential infections early and prevent passing them on to others.”
Dr Claire Dewsnap, of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, said: "The rise in gonorrhoea cases provides an important reminder of the importance of testing for STIs and wearing a condom every time you have sex. By getting tested at least once a year, regardless of whether you’re showing symptoms, you can help minimise the risk of catching or passing on STIs when having sex.
"Delaying access to the right care and treatment also risks developing longer-term problems which can be more difficult to address."