How Can You Catch Gonorrhoea?
How can you catch gonorrhoea... can you really get it from a toilet seat, or a drinks can? If you're wondering how gonorrhoea is transmitted, we've got the answers for you right here - if you want to protect yourself against this STI, keep reading.
Gonorrhoea can be painful, uncomfortable and in rare cases dangerous, but there's good news. First, the disease is straightforward to treat and disappears completely in a few days or weeks - you just have to know what to look out for and when to get tested.
At iPlaySafe, we're passionate about educating people about sexually transmitted infections and breaking down the stigmas of disucssing them. In this article, we'll advise you on the best practices to help you and your sexual partner(s) avoid catching gonorrhoea. We'll also cover the symptoms to look out for and what to do if you get a positive test result, and much more.
What is gonorrhoea?
Gonorrhoea is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI). Specifically, it is a bacterial infection that is transmitted from one person to another through sexual intercourse.
In many cases, gonorrhoea doesn't have any symptoms at all, or if it does, they are mild. However, those who believe they have it must be tested and treated as soon as possible.
The symptoms of gonorrhoea are different for men and women, but on the whole, there are more similarities than there are differences. For example, men will experience yellow discharge from the urethra and burning when peeing. Women will, too, along with pelvic pain.
Gonorrhoea must be treated with antibiotics shortly after testing. When it is not treated, it can lead to infertility and in rare cases, it can be fatal. In women, the bacterial infection spreads to the womb and fallopian tubes; it can cause pain in the pelvis and ectopic pregnancies.
What are the symptoms of this sexually transmitted infection?
For men, the first signs of gonorrhoea is an unusual discharge from the penis and some penis pain when urinating. The discharge might be green, yellow or white.
There might also be scrotal pain and unusual discharge from the rectum, anal itching and some pain or burning in the eyes. Both women and men have these symptoms.
For women, the symptoms are somewhat similar. There may also be unusual discharge from the vagina and pain when urinating; there will be pain and discharge from the rectum if this is infected and also in the eyes and throat. But there are additional symptoms for these people.
Women may also experience pain in the pelvis during or after sex. This is a condition known as a pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can cause infertility and ectopic pregnancies. They may also experience unusual bleeding and bleeding between their periods.
Can you catch gonorrhoea from oral sex?
Gonorrhoea travels from one person to another through sexual fluids, and it doesn't matter what the sexual activity is. If there is sexual contact between two people and one of them has gonorrhoea, the bacteria can transmit. It doesn't live long outside the body but transmits easily through sex.
If oral sex is performed on a male who has gonorrhoea, it can result in a gonorrhoea infection in the throat. This is also the case if oral sex is performed on someone with a vagina. The gonococcal infection can spread to other parts of the body as well.
If you intend to perform oral sex and you aren't sure if the person is infected or not, use a dental dam. This is a small piece of latex that forms a barrier between the genitals and the mouth. It still offers plenty of stimulation without the risk of catching an STI.
Can you catch gonorrhoea from a toilet seat?
Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted infection that travels through fluids generated during sex. It doesn't spread in any other way. Gonorrhoea is not airborne, and it doesn't spread through holding hands and casual contact.
In the past, concern surrounding the transmission of gonorrhoea was rife. It was a common misconception that if someone with gonorrhoea used a public toilet, whoever next used it could catch the infection.
Thanks to advances in science, we know that it doesn't spread on toilets or casual contact. Most likely, gonorrhoea is spread throughout the population because it has mild or no symptoms.
Someone might have gonorrhoea and not be aware of it when they engage in sexual activity. This means it's more important to practice safe sex to avoid gonorrhoea than it is to avoid public toilet seats.
Can you catch gonorrhoea from sharing a drink?
The gonorrhoea bacteria does not live for long outside the body. If it lands on a toilet seat or a drinks can, it will die shortly after, but it will also be unable to spread because there is no fluid to transmit it. Although research into this is conclusive, it doesn't stop people from worrying about catching it in this way.
The most likely way you will contract gonorrhoea is if you have unprotected sex, be it oral, vaginal, or anal, with an infected partner. There is a higher chance of this happening if you have more than one sex partner and you don't use a condom or a dental dam. Transmission rates are highest in the 18-24 age bracket.
You might not know if you have gonorrhoea because the symptoms are often mild or undetectable. So if you are someone with multiple sex partners and you don't use protection, you should get tested for gonorrhoea and other STIs regularly. At least once per year is recommended for sexually active people.
Can you contract gonorrhoea if you use a condom?
The chances of you catching gonorrhoea while wearing a condom during anal or vaginal sex are minimal.
Gonorrhoea is transmitted through sexual fluids, so the latex of the condom provides an effective barrier and prevents sexual fluids from interacting. However, there are other ways to catch this sexually transmitted disease with your sex partner.
If you wear a condom and it tears or gets broken somehow, it will not offer the protection you need. In this case, you may well contract gonorrhoea even when wearing a condom. Additionally, gonorrhoea is transmitted through oral and anal sex and by sharing sex toys. You should always clean any toys thoroughly after use.
Before you have vaginal oral or anal sex with an infected partner, check the new condom is in good working order before using it. Then, carefully take it out of the packet and unroll it on the penis while pinching the end to prevent any air from getting trapped.
When finished, roll it up from the base of the penis and dispose of it, making sure to wash your hands after.
How do I get tested for gonorrhoea and other sexually transmitted diseases?
There are various ways to test for STIs, but the easiest way is with home testing kits. Gonorrhoea testing is usually carried out with samples and lab testing. Collect your blood and urine samples at home, and return to the lab in the pre-paid envelope provided. You'll receive your results within 2-5 working days on the iPlaySafe app.
What treatment options are available for gonorrhoea?
The good news is that gonorrhoea is easy to treat once discovered. It is treated using an antibiotic injection that starts working straight away and relieves immediate symptoms in only a few days.
The most common antibiotic used against gonorrhoea is ceftriaxone, which is administered as an injection. However, some people may have an allergy, in which case alternatives such as oral azithromycin are available.
While you are being treated for gonorrhoea, you must abstain from sexual activity even after the treatment is carried out. You should wait seven days after the last symptoms of the disease have disappeared to resume any sexual activity.
How can I prevent gonorrhoea and other types of sexually transmitted infections?
You should start by having open and honest conversations with potential partners. With iPlaySafe, you and your partner(s) can take home STI tests and get your verified results in the form of a 'play badge' on the app, which you can share with each other. You can also protect yourself against a gonorrhoea infection by using protection such as condoms and dental dams.
The risk factors of catching gonorrhoea are highest in people aged between 18-24, as they tend to have more sexual partners and use less protection.
If you think you're at risk of catching gonorrhoea, it's a good idea to get tested regularly. Sexually active women younger than 24 should get tested for this and other STDs at least once per year - the same goes for sexually active men.
Is gonorrhoea life-threatening if left untreated?
Gonorrhoea is more life-threatening to women than it is to men. This is because when left untreated, gonorrhoea can reach the womb, leading to serious health problems.
If gonorrhoea is allowed to reach the womb, fallopian tubes and the uterus, it will begin to scratch them - this increases the chances of an ectopic pregnancy which can be fatal for a pregnant woman.
Although the disease can be life-endangering for pregnant women, there is very little chance of someone dying from gonorrhoea due to its easy treatment once discovered. However, it can spread to the blood and joints, causing other health problems.
Should I be tested for a sexually transmitted disease if I have unprotected sex?
Unprotected sex with a monogamous partner you know is very low risk, and you shouldn't need to test for gonorrhoea unless you have an open relationship of some kind.
If you have unprotected sex with many sex partners, then you are more likely to test positive - it's a good idea to get tested and treated regularly for gonorrhoea and other STDs. They can be easily treated once they are discovered.
Gonorrhoea is very easy to treat, but it usually has mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. For this reason, you need a clinical test or a home test to ascertain if you have gonorrhoea and need successful treatment.