More info on Throat Gonorrhea

Gono_-_Man's_FriendAll of us are familiar with Gonorrhea. It is an STD. It causes a thick yellow discharge and pain passing urine in both men and women. The symptoms can come on anytime between 3 to 30 days of exposure although 10% of people infected with Gonorrhoea will not show any symptoms.  And it is easily treated with antibiotics although the risk of antibiotic resistant Gonorrhoea is rising.

 

But, not many people know about Throat Gonorrhoea and Anal Gonorrhoea.

 

Let’s get back to basics. Gonorrhoea is a bacteria. It can and will infect any area of the body that is soft, warm and moist, namely mucosa. The 3 areas of mucosa exposed to the environment are the genital tract, anus and throat. So, if the Gonorrhoea bacteria lands on any of these areas, it will set up home and cause an infection. So far so good?

 

Needless to say, these 3 areas of mucosa frequently come into contact during a sexual encounter. Gonorrhoea can therefore pass from one area to another as long as they come into contact. So pick any combination you want; penis-mouth, vagina-mouth, penis-vagina, penis-anus, vagina-vagina, anus-mouth, mouth-mouth etc etc. As long as one party has Gonorrhoea, the other has a chance of catching it.

 

So if you have used your mouth during a sexual contact, and your partner has Gonorrhea, the chances are you could very well have throat Gonorrhea.

 

Throat Gonorrhea is not always associated with Urethral Gonorrhea. . (In one study 23% of patients with Throat Gonorrhoea do not have either Urethral or Rectal gonorrhoea.) In other words, you could have Throat Gonorrhoea only even if you had full on penetrative sex as well as oral sex with your partner. And since most doctors will only screen the urine for Gonorrhoea, this frequently misses a Throat Gonorrhoea infection.

 

So you could very well end up with a situation like this. Mr. A was diagnosed with Gonorrhoea of his penis. He was treated. His girlfriend, Ms. B had a urine test which found no Gonorrhoea. 2 weeks later, Mr. A came back with another Gonorrhoea infection. Ms. B was furious because she was convinced Mr. A was cheating on her. Mr. A pleaded his innocence. They came to see me. We swabbed Ms. B’s throat and found Gonorrhoea. It seems that she was passing the Gonorrhoea back to Mr. A while they were having oral sex. Ms. B was treated and they lived happily ever after.

 

This illustrates the other problem with Throat Gonorrhea. 90% to 95% of people infected with Throat Gonorrhea do not have any symptoms! Only 5% to 10% of people infected will have symptoms of sore throat, pus on the tonsils, fever and swollen lymph nodes. So really the only reliable way to know if you have been infected with Throat Gonorrhoea or not is to get a throat swab done.

 

Throat Gonorrhoea is also very common. One study found 3.5% to 6.8% of adolescent women carrying throat gonorrhoea. Another study in Japanese men found a whopping 11.9% with throat gonorrhoea and as if this was not high enough, this number jumped to 25% for the men who also had urethral gonorrhoea.

 

As if all that wasn’t bad enough, Throat Gonorrhoea is actually harder to cure than urethral gonorrhoea. This means that with the usual dose of antibiotics, the Gonorrhoea in the throat usually persists. Aside from being really troublesome for the patient, this also leads to a higher risk of the Gonorrhoea becoming antibiotic resistant.

 

So let’s summarize all things bad about Throat Gonorrhoea:

  1. It is commonly asymptomatic
  2. It is harder to cure
  3. It can lead to antibiotic resistance
  4. It can be transmitted to the genitals via oral sex
  5. It is frequently NOT related to genital infections

 

So if you think you might have Throat Gonorrhea, go see your doctor for a test today.

 

Click here to read our older post on Throat Gonorrhea.

 

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About Dr. Tan
Dr. Tan graduated from the National University of Singapore in 2001. His residency was in the two largest public hospitals in Singapore; Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Singapore General Hospital.

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14 Comments

  1. Hi, Dr. Tan. I am waiting almost 11 days post-possible exposure to get tested for gonorrhea/ chlamydia. Is that enough time for an accurate test result?

    Also, can i continue to use the same toothbrush I have been using before and after possible exposure and then just use a new one after i am tested for throat gonorrhea?

    Thanks

  2. Can you get oral gonorrhea from eating off the same plate or sharing food with in infected person with oral gonorrhea?

    • I have never heard of that happening and personally do not think it is possible. I would admit that I am also not aware of any hard scientific evidence on the subject.

  3. Dear Dr Tan,

    I read your example of Mr A and Miss B. How would they have gotten gornorrhea in the first place unless either one cheated b4 or they have gltten it from previous partner.
    Could it be that gornorrhea is developed somehow by itself b4 it spreads to others?

    • Gonorrhea does not develop by itself. It is a bacteria. It has to be passed on from one individual to another.

  4. Hi Dr Tan,

    May I know if bacterial infection is considered as STDs?

    What are the costs for these tests? And what does it include. In your website discuss on throat gonorrhoea, does this test include it?

    Are STDs curable via medication? Will the infection worsen if treatment was seeked much later?

    • STDs can be either bacterial or viral. For details on cost please click this link. The standard STD screening package does not screen for throat gonorrhoea. Cost of throat swab for gonorrhoea is $100 (before GST). Click here for more on throat gonorrhoea. Most STDs can be cure with medicines. Delay in treatment can lead to severe complications.

      • Hi dr tan, is a urine culture alone sufficient for STDs test? What are the STDs to be tested for under a urine culture?

        • Absolutely not. Urine cultures only culture for non-STD related bacteria. It does not detect any of the STDs.

          • Hi dr tan, saw the STD screening is $508.00. I suppose this include both blood and urine test.

            How much does it cost for just the urine test?

          • Urine test for: Gonorrhea PCR, Chlamydia PCR, NSU, Ureaplasma, Mycoplasma, Trichomonas, Yeast, Urine Culture, Urine Microscopy $300 (+ consult $35 + 7% GST = Total $358).

      • If my partner has vaginal gonorrhea, and I do lick her (oral sex) will I get throat gonnorhea? Likewise if I have throat gonorrhea and I lick my partner (oral sex) will she get vagina gonnorhea?

        • Yes and yes. Both are definitely possible and I have seen both types of cases in my practice.

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