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Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease caused by a bacteria. This STBBI is currently on the rise in Canada. A number of those infected do not show any symptoms. Many young people get infected unknowingly and are therefore at risk of transmitting the infection to their partners.

Transmission

Gonorrhea is transmitted during unprotected sexual relations with an infected person (with or without symptoms). It may be transmitted through: 

  • Oral sex (particularly through fellatio, and less frequently through anilingus and cunnilingus)
  • Vaginal penetration (penis penetrating the vagina)
  • Anal penetration (penis penetrating the anus)
  • Sharing sex toys
  • Less frequently, by kissing an infected person

A mother may also transmit the infection to their baby during labour.  

It is possible to get infected more than once during one’s lifetime.

Symptoms

Gonorrhea may not provoke any symptoms in a number of cases. As a result, you may transmit it without knowing you’re infected.

Symptoms can appear within 2 to 7 days following sexual contact with an infected person.

According to Public Health Agency Canada, an infected person with symptoms may observe the following signs. 

Symptoms in people with a vagina:    

  • A change or increase in vaginal discharge
  • Bleeding between menstruations
  • Pain or bleeding during or after vaginal sexual relations
  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • A burning sensation when urinating

Symptoms in people with a penis:    

  • A burning sensation when urinating
  • Discharge from the penis
  • A burning or itching feeling in the penis’s urinary meatus (the orifice through which you urinate)
  • Testicular pain

Other symptoms may also be observed depending on the infected body part (mouth, penis, vagina, anus, or eyes). If in doubt, you can contact Info-Santé (811) or get tested. 

Testing and Treatment 🔍

Testing is done during a medical examination. Gonorrhea can be detected through a urine sample, or a sample taken from the throat, penis, cervix, or anus. 

Gonorrhea is treated with doctor-prescribed antibiotics 💊.

👉 Important:
You must take the antibiotics as prescribed until the very last pill, even if the symptoms have disappeared. You must also avoid having unprotected sexual relations during treatment. You can get infected with gonorrhea again, even if you have been treated for it. 

Over time, some of the strains of bacteria that cause gonorrhea have become resistant to antibiotics, which makes recovering from it more difficult. It is important to consult a healthcare professional if you still have symptoms after treatment. 

Prevention

In order to avoid transmitting or catching gonorrhea ☔, use a condom during fellatio as well as vaginal and anal penetration, and use a dental dam when practising cunnilingus or anilingus. Also avoid sharing sex toys. Finally, ask your sexual partners if they have been tested recently. 

If you have contracted gonorrhea, you should inform your sexual partner(s) so that they get tested and avoid transmitting it to others. Find out how to talk about it here. 

Sources: Public Health Agency of Canada; CATIE; The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada