Many people believe oral sex is safe. On the contrary, you can contract oral gonorrhea if you engage in oral sex with an infected partner. It is not true that oral sex is safe unless those engaging in it have no infections. So what is oral gonorrhea? How is it contracted and what are the symptoms and risks associated with the disease? This content answers these questions by proving adequate information about the disease, its symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and how you can prevent yourself from getting infected.
What Is Oral Gonorrhea?
Is Oral Sex Safe?
Many individuals, particularly teens, think oral sex is safe sex. In this context, safe sex is defined as deriving sexual gratification through methods or means that significantly reduce the chance of conceiving. However, safe sex could also mean engaging in sex practices that reduce the chance of contracting an ailment from your sex partner, such as gonorrhea.
Most doctors do not consider oral sex safe unless the necessary precautions are put in place to prevent or significantly minimize the likelihood of disease transmission between individuals who engage in sex, or if the partners have no infections. Oral sex without precautions is not safe sex as sexually transmitted infections and diseases can occur this way.
Oral gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) of the pharynx attributed to a bacterium known as Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Oral gonorrhea is also termed as pharyngeal gonorrhea. The infection is typically acquired via contacting yellowish/whitish pus that contains the bacteria from a sex partner. This discharge is usually caused by N. gonorrhoeae bacteria that inflames the tissues. The bacteria mix with the vaginal and seminal fluids or mucous membranes that consequently come into contact with another individual’s oral mucous membranes leading to an infection.
The exudate of these bacteria is not easily seen and the bacterial infection quickly establishes itself in the pharynx. The entire process is typically asymptomatic (no distinguishable symptoms). However, it can cause discomfort when you swallow food and sometimes a sore throat. Once your throat is infected, it looks a lot like a strep throat with redness and this may be accompanied by white spots that discharge a yellowish or whitish fluid.
Individuals who perform fellatio, or oral contact with the penis, have the highest risk of contracting oral gonorrhea compared to those who engage in cunnilingus, which is the oral contact with the clitoris and vagina. In addition, men who engage in sex with other men are also likely to contract the disease (approximately 10-25%).
How Is Oral Gonorrhea Contracted?
Can You Get Gonorrhea from Oral?
Oral gonorrhea is an STD, which implies that it can be contracted by having oral sex. Therefore, engaging in oral sex by either receiving oral sex from an infected mouth or throat, or giving oral sex to an individual with infected genitals can lead to an oral gonorrhea infection. Even though the infection results from vaginal fluids and semen, it can still infect the throat, mouth, and eyes in addition to the anus, urethra, and genitals.
The transmission of the disease is not dependent on ejaculation. It should also be noted that anyone can get the disease even if they have not been diagnosed or treated for the disease before.
Can You Get Oral Gonorrhea from Casual Contact?
Vaginal fluids or semen are required for the transmission of N. gonorrhoeae and you cannot contract it from casual contact. Essentially, it is impossible to get the disease from holding hands, sneezing, sharing food, sitting on a toilet, or hugging. It is unlikely that you get the disease from saliva, and therefore, you need not worry about contracting it from kissing someone with gonorrhea throat infection. In fact, there is no documentation of any cases contracted through kissing.
Mode of Transmission
The primary method of transmission is via contact with bodily fluids. In most instances, oral sores in the genital area cause fluids from an infected partner to enter the body, which leads to a localized infection. The fluids contain the bacteria, which facilitates the contraction of the disease. You should also note that oral gonorrhea can also be transmitted from the mouth of an infected individual to the genitals of his or her sex partner.
What Are the Symptoms and Risks?
The main symptom of the disease is a sore throat, but over 90% of persons infected show little or no signs or symptoms. The symptoms for the disease are similar for both women and men and manifest after a few days following oral contact with the genitals or anal area of your partner who has N. gonorrhoeae infection. The period until the symptoms show is about 7-21 days.
Individuals with oral gonorrhea generally cannot transmit it to others, but it is not impossible. However, it is likely that a person spreads the disease if the bacteria in the pharynx are transferred to other objects, typically through direct contact, such as sex toys, penis, or the fingers, and then the object touches other body areas, more particularly the rectal and genital areas, or even the eyes.
However, this mode of transmission is very infrequent. Generally, the symptoms are usually not present or are mild, and differ from the eye, anal, penile, or vagina disseminated gonorrhea.
You should look out for the following symptoms, which could indicate oral gonorrhea:
- 2Yellowish and a whitish discharge
- 3Mouth sores that are usually painless
- 4Lesions like cold sores coupled with fever blisters around the mouth
- 5Red and painful throat characterized by difficulty when swallowing
- 6Redness with white spots that resemble strep throat.
Even though the disease can be cured by the body in about 1-3 weeks, not all individuals can self-cure, and this may cause the disease to spread in the entire body. This is referred to as disseminated gonorrhea, which is a major risk for the disease.
Accurate diagnosis entails isolating N. gonorrhoeae from the infected person’s throat. Most doctors, however, recommend the use of a rapid throat swab designed for detecting N. gonorrhoeae, which is used for a presumptive diagnosis. In addition, treatment entails using antibiotics. The CDC recommends oral intake of ceftriaxone, 250mg IM plus and a single dose of azithromycin, 1 g. In addition, the sexual partners should be evaluated 60 days after the sexual encounter and similar medication provided.
Many people who have the disease show no symptoms and the infection can be cleared using antibiotics. The same applies to those who show the symptoms. However, as most of the N. gonorrhoeae strains have developed resistance to antibiotics, the doctor may prescribe one or more antibiotics. In rare instances, the disease could become systemic if the patient is immunocompromised, which is the major risk of the disease.
While prevention is tricky, preventing contact from seminal or vaginal fluid could prevent contracting the disease. Condoms, both for females and males, could also prevent the vaginal or seminal secretions with the bacteria, but this method is not 100% guaranteed for protection. Once you use a condom during oral sex, the goal is not allowing your mouth to come into contact with the secretions, rather only the material of the condom.
Therefore, if you have not done this before, ask for help or guidelines from a reliable source. Sources that would be helpful include sex educators and doctors. The information they provide is essential in helping you protect your health.
It is also important to note that N. gonorrhoeae is associated with other organisms, such as Chlamydia trachomatis, which causes chlamydia, and Treponema pallidum, which causes syphilis. Doctors give medications that will kill these STDs simultaneously. It is likely that you get infected with two or three bacteria, and thus, the medication will treat them all.
For those who are not infected, oral sex is safe, unless you have gastrointestinal pathogens that may adversely affect the rectal or genital areas. For those infected with oral gonorrhea or any other STD, it is not recommended that you engage in oral sex unless adequate protection measures are adopted. However, there is still a likelihood of contracting since most of the protection mechanisms are not 100% effective and accidental infections could occur, for example, when a condom leaks.
Oral gonorrhea is contracted if you engage in oral sex with an infected partner. For those who have heard oral sex is safe, this is hardly true. For the new kids out there seeking to engage in oral sex, you should not say it is safe unless you use protection. You need to not only protect yourself but also your partner. If you note any of the symptoms of oral gonorrhea, including a yellowish and whitish discharge, painless mouth sores, lesions that are like cold sores coupled with fever blisters around the mouth, red and painful throat, and redness with white spots that resemble strep throat, and you have engaged in oral sex in the last week, you need to visit the doctor.
Before engaging in oral sex, if you note any yellowish or whitish discharge on your partner’s genitals, it is best not to have oral sex until the individual is disease-free. We hope that this content equips you with what you need to know about oral gonorrhea, how you can contract it, the symptoms to make appropriate decisions for prevention, and when to seek help if you have contracted the disease.
Helpful Tips to oral care
[amazon box=”B077Z2WWP8,B0762LYFKP,B001ET76AI” grid=”3″]