The number of people in the Netherlands with gonorrhoea is continuing to increase significantly. Diagnosed cases of this sexually transmitted infection increased by 31% in 2023, compared to 2022. These cases involved people who were tested at a sexual health centre operated by the Municipal Public Health Services (GGDs). The increase was highest among women and heterosexual men under 25 years old. These findings are from the new Sexual Health Thermometer provided by RIVM.

This is the second consecutive year that there has been an increase in the number of young adults testing positive for gonorrhoea at the sexual health centres. Back in mid-2022, RIVM had already reported an increase in cases of gonorrhoea. At that point, it was an increase of 33% compared to 2021.

Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a bacteria. In men, the bacteria can infect the urethra (‘the clap’), rectum, throat and epididymides. In women, the bacteria can infect the urethra, rectum, throat, cervix and fallopian tubes.

Striking increase among young women and heterosexual men

In 2023, over 13,800 people were diagnosed with gonorrhoea through the sexual health centres. This was an increase of 31% compared to 2022. Although gonorrhoea is still most prevalent among men who have sex with men, there has been a striking increase among young women and young heterosexual men. These cases primarily involve people with a high level of education, who do not have a migration background. In 2023, the number of gonorrhoea diagnoses among women increased by 78% compared to 2022 (rising from 1,458 to 2,598) and by 51% among heterosexual men (rising from 666 to 1,007).

The gonorrhoea detection percentage (the number of diagnoses divided by the number of tests) among women rose from 2.3% to 4.1%. Among heterosexual men, the gonorrhoea detection percentage rose from 2.4% to 3.5%.

Preventing gonorrhoea from spreading

Gonorrhoea can easily be preventing by using a condom during sex. A condom also protects you against other STIs. RIVM advises people who have symptoms to get tested. This also applies to people who are at risk, for example because they had sex without a condom and their partner had not been tested, or could have an STI. If the test shows that a person has gonorrhoea, the infection can be treated quickly. If the test is positive, it is important to notify sexual partner(s) as soon as possible. Anonymous notification after a positive test can be arranged through the website at, so sexual partners can get tested and treated quickly.  

Other STI facts and figures

The Sexual Health Thermometer shows that the number of STI-related appointments at the sexual health centres in the Netherlands rose by 5% in 2023. There has been a slight decrease in chlamydia diagnoses since 2022; HIV infections remained stable, while syphilis diagnosis rose by 8% compared to 2022.

About the Sexual Health Thermometer

The Sexual Health Thermometer is a half-yearly report by RIVM on the most important figures and trends relating to STIs and sexual health in the Netherlands. These figures come from the Sexual Health Centres (SHCs).