Gonorrhea in the throat is a condition that is acquired through unprotected oral sex. Most people, specifically teenagers, are under the impression that oral sex is “safe.” This is mainly because it eliminates or helps avoid the risk of pregnancy. However, “safe sex” actually refers to sex practices that prevent the possibility of getting a disease from a sex partner. Oral sex is not actually safe unless precautions are taken to avoid the risk of transmission. Sexually transmitted infections(STDs) may be transferred through oral sex, including chlamydia, syphilis, or gonorrhea.
What is throat gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea throat infection, also called pharyngeal gonorrhea is an STD infection of the pharynx caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Infection is transmitted by direct contact with white/yellowish pus-like discharge containing the bacteria from the infected sex partner. This discharge is produced by N. gonorrhoeae bacterium, which causes infection/inflammation in the local tissue. The discharge mixes with a person’s vaginal fluids, and seminal fluids, affecting the mucus membranes of the rectum. The infection is passed on by contacting another person’s oral mucus membranes. Throat gonorrhea affecting the pharynx may produce no symptoms (asymptomatic), but it can also cause sore throat symptoms. Gonorrhea symptoms in the throat can resemble strep throat, presenting with pain while swallowing food, redness at the back of the throat, and white spots on the tonsils. People performing fellatio (oral contact with a penis) are more likely to get gonococcal pharyngitis than those who have cunnilingus (oral contact with the vagina/ clitoris). Men who have sex with other men have a higher risk of getting oral gonorrhea.
Although the body may sometimes clear gonorrhea in the throat within a few weeks but not all people can fight the infection. In some cases, specifically in immunocompromised individuals, it can spread the disease throughout the body (disseminated gonorrhea).
Oral Gonorrhea Symptoms
Typically, gonorrhea in the mouth doesn’t cause any symptoms. However, even if symptoms are due to gonorrhea in the throat, they can be hard to distinguish from symptoms of throat infections caused by other conditions.
Gonorrhea throat symptoms include:
- sore throat
- swollen lymph nodes in the neck region
- redness at the back of the throat/oral cavity
It is possible for a person with gonorrhea of the throat to develop a gonorrhea infection in another part of the body, including the cervix or urethra.
Generally, gonorrhea symptoms in men and women include:
- pain or burning while urinating
- unusual penile discharge or vaginal
- pain during intercourse
- swollen testicles
- swollen lymph nodes in the groin
How do you get gonorrhea in the throat?
The mode of transmission or oral gonorrhea is oral sex performed on the genitals or anus of someone infected with gonorrhea. This includes oral sex to the penis ( fellatio), the vagina (cunnilingus), and the anus (anilingus).
Some studies claim that it can be transmitted through kissing as well.
How is gonorrhea in the throat diagnosed?
If you have had oral sex, you will need to inform your doctor so that you can have your throat checked, especially if you get tested for gonorrhea. Culture is the “gold standard” test for gonorrhea in the throat. The nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) is commonly used to test for genital gonorrhea. The culture test for gonorrhea is done using a sterile swab. The swab is rubbed against the back of the throat and then onto a culture plate. It takes time to get your test results as several days are needed for the bacterial colonies to grow and multiply. If someone tests positive for gonorrhea, they should also be tested for other STIs like chlamydia, HIV and syphilis.
Gonorrhea in the throat treatment
Gonorrhoea in the mouth is more challenging to treat than genital gonorrhoea. However, it can be cured with the proper antibiotics.
The CDC recommends treating uncomplicated gonorrhea with a single 500-milligram (mg) intramuscular dose of ceftriaxone. Although, for people who weigh around 330 lbs (150 kg), it is recommended they should receive a single 1-gram dose of ceftriaxone instead.
These recommendations for gonorrhea medication are applicable for infections involving the genitals, pharynx, anus and rectum. Previously ceftriaxone plus oral azithromycin was the recommended treatment, but the treatment protocol has changed due to the emerging resistance to azithromycin.
Chlamydial infection can co-occur with gonorrhea. In that case, 100 mg of doxycycline is prescribed twice daily for 7 days.
In individuals allergic to cephalosporin, an intramuscular dose of gentamicin(240mg) plus a 2-g oral dose of azithromycin is an option.
How likely is oral gonorrhea recurrence?
There aren’t any exact stats available on how likely is the recurrence of oral gonorrhea.
However, it is known that recurrence for other types of gonorrhea is higher, ranging from 3.6 to 11 percent of previously treated people.
It is of utmost importance that you avoid all forms of sexual contact, including oral sex and kissing, at least for 7 days after completing treatment.
Furthermore, you should get retested 3 to 6 months after treatment, even if you and your partner(s) completed the treatment and do not have any symptoms. Testing for other STDs can be considered as well.
Natural Remedies For Oral Gonorrhea
Antibiotics are the only proven way to treat gonorrhea. Although any robust studies do not back the following remedies, they may help relieve the symptoms or help boost your overall immunity.
- Garlic: Garlic has antibacterial properties, making it a popular choice to treat bacterial infections at home.
- Listerine: Researchers have studied the effects of the antiseptic mouthwash on gonorrhea bacteria in the throat. The study revealed decreased colonisation of the bacteria in the throat of individuals who used the mouth wash.
- Goldenseal: Goldenseal is a plant used by European settlers in the early 1800s due to its antimicrobial properties. It can be consumed as a berberine supplement of 500 mg three times a day. It is generally considered safe. However, do not consume it if you take medications to lower your blood glucose levels. Some minor side includes flatulence, abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhoea.
- Aloe Vera: This can be used as a gel or a drink to get the benefit. It also has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, providing multiple health benefits.
- Raw Honey. Using a tablespoon of raw honey or mixing it in warm water or tea and drinking it can relieve sore throat pain. Additionally, it is known to help the body fight multiple infections.
What happens if gonorrhea in the throat is left untreated?
Untreated oral gonorrhea may spread through your bloodstream to infect other parts of your body.
Although rare, this can lead to systemic gonococcal infection. This is also called disseminated gonococcal infection.
Systemic gonococcal infection is a critical condition that can result in sores on the skin, joint pain and swelling. Another complication is an infection in the heart, which is very rare.
Gonorrhea of the genitals or anus can cause other serious complications such as:
- pelvic inflammatory disease
- increased risk of contracting HIV
Preventing gonorrhea in the throat
The only way to avoid getting gonorrhea anywhere in the body is to abstain from oral, anal, or vaginal sex. Additionally, avoiding sharing sex toys can help reduce or eliminate the chances of transmitting gonorrhea. If you are sexually active, you can reduce your risk of catching gonorrhea by:
- Using dental dam or condoms every time you have sex, whether vaginal, oral, or anal.
- Staying in a monogamous relationship with a person who has been tested and does not have an infection.
Is mouthwash enough, or do you really need antibiotics?
It is believed by many that using a mouthwash can help cure gonorrhea. Although, there isn’t any robust evidence to verify the claim.
A particular study claimed that mouthwash significantly decreased the number of bacteria causing gonorrhea) on the throat surface but there further. More research and studies are required to access this. Although, antibiotics are a promising cure only.
Oral gonorrhea vs strep throat
It is hard to differentiate gonorrhea sore throat symptoms from those caused by other throat conditions such as the sore throat or strep throat.
To verify the cause, you will need to see a doctor and get tested. A throat swab is required to test for gonorrhea.
As in the case of strep throat, a sore throat from gonorrhea may lead to a sore throat with redness. Strep throat often also causes white patches in the throat. A sore throat caused by gonorrhea is usually reffered to as gonococcal pharyngitis.
Some other symptoms of strep throat include:
- a sudden high fever, often 101°F
- swollen lymph nodes in the neck
- pain while swallowing
- red spots at the back of the throat
When to Consult a Doctor
Oral sex is not actually safe unless you use protection to prevent the risk of transmission of STDs. There are many sexually transmitted infections(STDs) that can be passed on through oral sex, including chlamydia, syphilis, or gonorrhea
If you or your sex partner(s) are infected or if you are doubtful if your current symptoms are due to a sore throat or oral gonorrhea, consult with our online doctor at Your Doctors online right away!
FAQs About Gonorrhea in the Throat Answered by Your Doctors Online Team
Many people consider oral gonorrhoa to be rare. Although, it can be contracted easily by having unprotected oral intercourse. Mainly as it does not cause any symptoms, it can go undetected unless a person tests for it.
Yes, oral gonorhea is curable. Although harder to treat than genital gonorrhea, antibiotics can cure it. Commonly uncomplicated infections are treated with a single 500mg intramuscular dose of ceftriaxone.
You can have an oral gonorrheal infection for months if you are asymptomatic. If left untreated, it can last for 3-4 months
The mode of transmission or oral gonorrhea is oral sex performed on the genitals or anus of someone infected with gonorrhea.
You should get tested if you have had unprotected sex, especially with a new partner. Testing will help start treatment promptly and help prevent any complications that may arise from STDs.
Oral gonorrhoa can clear up on its own within 3 months. Although, if you are aware that you have an infection, it is best to take medication for gonorrhea to prevent complications.
Antibiotics help cure the infection. However, you must complete the treatment as advised by your doctor and not have sex for 7 days after completing treatment to prevent a recurrence.
Throat gonorrhea is commonly confused with a sore throat or strep throat. It can present with pain in the throat, pain while swallowing, redness at the back of your throat or enlarged/inflamed tonsil. Therefore, it is essential to get a throat swab done to diagnose the infection.
There isn’t sufficient evidence that confirms the role of mouth wash in treating oral gonorhea. However, using a mouth wash may help colonise the bacteria causing gonorrhea in the throat.
There aren’t any exact stats available on how likely is the recurrence of oral gonorrhea. However, it is known that recurrence for other types of gonorrhea, such as genital gonorrhea is higher,