Gonorrhoea infection is caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It's the second most common bacterial sexually transmitted infection (STI) in Scotland and the UK and is transmitted through unprotected vaginal, oral or anal intercourse with an infected partner. Individuals may have no symptoms, but still pass on the infection.

Gonorrhoea can be treated with antibiotics. Untreated gonorrhoea infection can lead to reproductive problems.

In women, this includes:

  • pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • ectopic pregnancy
  • tubal factor infertility

In men this can mean epididymitis – inflammation of the testicular tube.

Infection can also be associated with a systemic illness, manifested by an arthritis-dermatitis syndrome.

The gonococcus has developed antimicrobial resistance to all previous antibiotics used to treat it and the emergence of antibiotic resistance is a public health concern. Surveillance of resistance is essential to inform treatment and management guidelines, prevent treatment failure and maintain control of the spread of infection. The Scottish Bacterial Sexually Transmitted Reference Laboratory (SBSTIRL) currently performs gonococcal antibiotic surveillance in Scotland (GASS) and reports on an annual basis.

Visit NHS Inform for information on symptoms and where to get a test.


View the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) guidance for gonorrhoea.


The Blood borne viruses and sexually transmitted infections, Scotland 2017 report describes the epidemiology of Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and other STIs in Scotland to the end of December 2016. The report describes the impact of interventions in both preventing infection and associated disease and highlights public health priorities. It also signposts readers to other existing Scottish reports and data sources which are available on our website. The commentary is structured around the outcome indicators detailed in the Scottish Government’s Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus (SHBBV) Framework, 2015 to 2020.

Data and surveillance

We collect data on all laboratory positive diagnoses of Neisseria gonorrhoeae from all testing laboratories and the SBSTIRL in Scotland using the Electronic Communication of Surveillance in Scotland (ECOSS) system.

In 2009, the universal use of ECOSS by testing laboratories in Scotland came into effect. As a result, trends observed since then aren't directly comparable to those prior to this date.

We produce the following data and surveillance reports. 

Sexual health and blood borne virus framework

The Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus Framework, first published by the Scottish Government in August 2011 and updated in September 2015, brought together policy areas on sexual health and blood borne viruses (BBVs), namely human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis C virus (HCV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV). The framework supports improvements in sexual health and wellbeing and addresses the impact of BBV infection in Scotland. The framework seeks to strengthen and improve multi-agency partnerships to address the five high-level outcomes:

  1. Fewer newly acquired BBVs and STIs; fewer unintended pregnancies
  2. A reduction in the health inequalities gap in sexual health and BBVs
  3. People affected by BBVs lead longer, healthier lives
  4. Sexual relationships are free from coercion and harm.
  5. A society whereby the attitudes of individuals, the public, professionals and the media in Scotland towards sexual health and BBVs are positive, non-stigmatising and supportive.

Sexual health and blood borne virus (SHBBV) open access data portal

The Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus (SHBBV) Open Access Data Portal contains a wealth of information in a format which allows users to easily monitor Scotland's progress, both nationally and locally, against the Scottish Government's SHBBV framework outcomes.

View the latest Scottish One Health antimicrobial resistance and antimicrobial use report (SONAAR)