Clinical presentation of asymptomatic and symptomatic heterosexual men who tested positive for urethral gonorrhoea at a sexual health clinic in Melbourne, Australia

Mario Martín-Sánchez, Jason J. Ong, Christopher K. Fairley, Marcus Y. Chen, Deborah A. Williamson, Kate Maddaford, Ei T. Aung, Georgia Carter, Catriona S. Bradshaw, Eric P.F. Chow

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BACKGROUND: Asymptomatic screening for gonorrhoea in heterosexual men is currently not recommended in many countries including Australia, given the prevalence is relatively low in the heterosexual population. We aimed to determine the proportion of urethral gonorrhoea cases among heterosexual men attending a sexual health clinic that was asymptomatic and symptomatic, the time since last sexual contact to the onset of symptoms and the time to clinic presentation following the onset of symptoms. METHODS: This was a cross-sectional study that included heterosexual men aged 16 years or above attending the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre (MSHC) in Australia between August 2017 and August 2018. Gonorrhoea cases were diagnosed by nucleic acid amplification testing (NAAT) and/or culture. Descriptive analyses were conducted for all gonorrhoea cases including demographic characteristics, recent sexual practices, reported urethral symptoms and duration, sexual contact with a person diagnosed with gonorrhoea, investigations performed and laboratory results. RESULTS: There were 116 confirmed cases of urethral gonorrhoea in heterosexual men over the study period of which 6.0% (95% CI: 2.7-12.1%) were asymptomatic. Typical urethral discharge was present in 80.2% (95% CI: 71.9-86.5%) of men. The mean time between last sexual contact and the onset of symptoms was 7.0 days, and between the onset of symptoms to presentation to the clinic was 5.6 days. CONCLUSIONS: A small proportion of heterosexual men with urethral gonorrhoea do not have any symptoms. Heterosexual men with urethral symptoms usually seek for healthcare within a week, prompting rapid healthcare-seeking behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Article number486
Number of pages9
JournalBMC Infectious Diseases
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jul 2020


  • Discharge
  • Genital
  • Men who have sex with women
  • MSM
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae
  • Screening
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Testing
  • Urogenital

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