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STDs

Can I get gonorrhea from oral sex?

CDC/James Volk

Yes. Yes you can.

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted diseases that infects the reproductive tract (cervix for women and urethra for men). However, it can live anywhere there is columnar epithelium (a type of cell), so if deposited in the rectum or the mouth, gonorrhea can take up residence there as well. Babies can acquire gonorrhea in the eye during birth through an infected cervix.

Identifying and treating gonorrhea is very important. It causes serious infections of the reproductive tract for both women and men that can lead to infertility. Less commonly, gonorrhea can get into the blood stream and cause devastating infections elsewhere in the body.

We know from research that performing oral sex is a risk factor for getting oropharyngeal gonorrhea. Close contact with the penis to the back of the mouth, or the tongue in the vagina is a effective way to expose the mouth and throat. However, both women and men can catch gonorrhea of the genital tract by receiving cunnilingus or fellatio from a partner with oral gonorrhea. So you can get gonorrhea of the reproductive tract if you are a virgin and your only source of contact has been oral sex.

While many (although not enough) people use condoms for penetrative intercourse, the use of barrier methods for oral sex is very low. In one study of heterosexual couples, only 17% of used a condom for oral sex and with cunnilingus, the use of a barrier method was even lower.

Oral gonorrhea often has no symptoms – only 15% have a sore throat and 5% have recurrent tonsillitis.  In addition (and this is the real kicker), gonorrhea can be found at the front part of the mouth (yes, the part we use for kissing) and so it can also be transmitted that way (how often it happens is unknown).

Unfortunately, gonorrhea of the mouth is much harder to treat. The only treatment regimen that works is a shot of an antibiotic called ceftriaxone.

If you test positive for gonorrhea, tell your health care provider if you have had oral sex with any of your partners in the past 3 months. If so, you need the treatment that is effective against oral gonorrhea or you need to be tested to make sure your mouth tests negative.

Remember, not only can you catch gonorrhea of the mouth by giving oral sex, but you can also give gonorrhea to your partner this way as well.

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Discussion

11 thoughts on “Can I get gonorrhea from oral sex?

  1. Where can I get the original research that supports the theory of oral infections?
    I have been told by the leading doctor at Sydney Sexual Health Center that getting this disease in the throat by performing cunnilingus is IMPOSSIBLE (her emphasis not mine). In fact she suggested that my (perceived) empherical evidence (believing that this is the 3rd time I have had it) was a sign of psychosis rather than a phisical possibility.
    If you can’t get health care professionals to believe this is real, how on earth can you get treated?

    Posted by maj | October 28, 2011, 10:37 am
  2. ORAL SEX SHOULD BE RESTRICTED. FOR HAVING ORAL SEX WITH AN INFECTED PATIENCE THERE THE INFECTION TO THE NORMAL SEX PATER

    Posted by COLLINS.E | July 3, 2012, 1:07 pm
    • It’s a persons choice who they receive sex from and what type of sex it is. It’s a private matter and should not be regulated when it is between two consenting mature people.

      Posted by Christian | September 5, 2013, 3:14 pm
  3. i caught it from sharing bottled water. Jen

    Posted by jen c | December 14, 2012, 1:44 am
  4. I did get it on my penis solely from receiving a blow job. White discharge, stained underwear (which looks like lots of cum), painful urination. I hate taking antibiotics so I am not sure being such a slut is worth the risks anymore.

    Posted by Aeroflight03 | May 15, 2013, 3:12 pm

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: The oral sex oral cancer connection « Dr. Jen Gunter - July 12, 2011

  2. Pingback: How common is HPV in the mouth and can you get it by kissing? « Dr. Jen Gunter - February 16, 2012

  3. Pingback: How to reduce the risk of cunnilingus-related oral cancer | Dr. Jen Gunter - June 5, 2013

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