A standard gonorrhea lab test requires a urine sample or a swab from the genitals if you have any discharges.
But in some cases, your doctor may ask for a swab from other parts of the body such as the mouth or rectum.
Back in May, the FDA approved the first-ever extragenital (meaning other areas other than the genitals) tests for chlamydia and gonorrhea.
There were already some extragenital tests for these STDs, but these are the first ones to get FDA approval.
So why do you need to test your mouth for gonorrhea when mostly you get it from vaginal or anal sex?
Well, you don’t have to engage in the usual penetrative types of intercourse to get gonorrhea. You can get it from oral sex as well.
How You Can Get Gonorrhea in Your Throat
If you have oral sex with someone who is infected with gonorrhea, you can get an oral infection that spreads to your throat.
This happens if their penis, vagina, urinary tract, or rectum has the infection.
The exchange of infected fluids transmits the infection from the infected partner to you.
The risk of getting gonorrhea from oral sex is higher if you have sores in your mouth, your gums have been bleeding, you have tooth decay, or you expose yourself to semen.
So even if you use protection during vaginal or anal sex, you can still get a sexually transmitted infection if you don’t take the right precautions during oral sex.
Note: Until recently, doctors didn’t think gonorrhea and various other STDs could be spread by kissing. But there is new evidence that gonorrhea can be spread by kissing, though the risk is lower compared to oral sex.
Deep or French kissing increases your risk of getting oral gonorrhea from an infected partner.
It’s Not Just Gonorrhea
Almost all STDs that are transmitted through vaginal or anal sex can also be transmitted through unprotected oral sex.
So it’s not just gonorrhea you need to be worried about. You can also get chlamydia, syphilis, herpes, HPV, and HIV.
For HIV, the risk is low but not nil.
What are the Symptoms that You Have Gonorrhea in Your Throat?
It’s usually difficult to tell when you have oral gonorrhea.
That’s because it usually doesn’t present any symptoms in the beginning. And even when it does, it’s easy to confuse them for other normal throat infections.
You may experience sore throat, fever, swollen lymph nodes, and redness in your throat.
Since, you can get gonorrhea in two places at once (if you had oral sex, you also most likely had vaginal or anal sex with the infected partner), you may also notice genital discharge, pain when peeing and swollen testicles.
But the only way to know for sure that you have oral gonorrhea is to get tested.
In addition to the usual genital swab or urine sample, your doctor may also ask for a mouth swab to check for the presence of the STD in your mouth and throat.
If you are shy about going to the doctor, get an at-home STD test kit. If you get positive results, we highly recommend a proper lab test to confirm the diagnosis.
Wherever you decide to get tested, do not wait until you notice symptoms. It takes time before any gonorrhea symptoms show up.
If gonorrhea is left untreated for long, it can spread to other parts of the body and cause serious health complications, including skin sores, joint pain, and heart problems.
As long as you are sexually active, you should get regularly tested for all common STDs.
Is Oral Gonorrhea Treatable?
Yes, oral gonorrhea can be cured. But it is important that it is diagnosed on time.
Your doctor will likely recommend dual antibiotic therapy to overcome resistance.
If initial treatment does not clear away symptoms, you may need stronger antibiotics.
How to Protect Yourself from Oral Gonorrhea?
For sexually active adults, the best protection is to be in a mutually monogamous relationship.
That’s where both of you are faithful to each other, and you are confident they don’t have any STDs (you should still get regular STD tests).
Otherwise, the best way to protect yourself is to use a dental dam or a condom.
A dental dam is a special type of condom that provides a barrier between the mouth and the anus or vagina during oral sex.
If you are performing oral sex on a penis, your partner should use a normal condom.
Don’t forget to get regular STD tests, especially if you have multiple sexual partners.