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What Exactly is Extragenital Gonorrhea?

Often referred to as “the clap,” gonorrhea is caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae. This bacterial infection is transmitted through bodily fluids. It can be found in three areas on the human body – the genitals, the mouth and the rectum. In addition to a genital infection, it is possible to contract “the clap” in your throat or rectum via oral or anal sex.

For example, performing oral sex on an infected person can pass an infection to your throat. On the other hand, if your partner has gonorrhea in their mouth and goes down on you, the infection can transfer directly to your genitals.

With about 820,000 new cases reported in the United States each year, this is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is especially prevalent among 15 to 24 year-olds.

What are the Symptoms of Extragenital Gonorrhea?

A gonorrhea infection in your throat or mouth may cause symptoms that are indistinguishable from a typical sore throat. To make matters worse, for 90 percent of oral infections there won’t be any detectable symptoms.

In the cases that do present symptoms, here’s what to look for:

  • A sore throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Redness or white spots in the back of the throat

A rectal gonorrhea infection may cause the following symptoms:

  • Anal itching
  • Rectal pain
  • Discharge and/or bleeding
  • Painful bowel movements

Above all, it is necessary to test all the areas that may carry the infection. If you participate in oral and anal sex, it’s time to test! You should screen with not only a genital test, but also with an oral and rectal test.

These forms of the clap are considered “extragenital” infections. A traditional STI test can miss localized infections outside of the genital-specific region. To discover an infection in either the throat or rectum, you’ll need to use an extragenital test. For this reason, myLAB Box offers both traditional and extragenital testing options. Extragenital testing is specifically designed to find infections that could be easily missed via traditional, genital-only testing.

Don’t Delay Testing

If left untreated, throat infections can spread, causing skin sores and joint pain. This condition is called disseminated gonococcal infection. It can even infect your heart! As you may imagine, this is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition. Gonorrhea can also increase the risk of acquiring or transmitting HIV. For this reason, it important to test early and often.

To be crystal clear, we’re not simply blaming the clinics here. Often, oral and anal gonorrhea is missed because people are not always comfortable talking with their medical professional about their sexual activity. While we urge you to trust your doctor, we also recognize that this process can be awkward, make you nervous, or in some cases even make you feel judged. Our at home test offers private and easy testing. The truth is, if you aren’t fully open with your doctor, you may not receive all of the tests that you actually need.

Treatment is Necessary

Fortunately, there is good news. Once diagnosed, extragenital gonorrhea infections are treatable. According to the CDC, the recommended treatment usually requires a single antibiotic injection. Often, this is coupled with a single oral dose of antibiotics. Soon after, your symptoms should quickly start to disappear. Following treatment, there’s a recommended seven-day waiting period after your oral antibiotics. Once that happens, you’re good to go!

References

  1. Wiesner PJ, Tronca E, Bonin P, et al. Clinical Spectrum of Pharyngeal Gonococcal Infection. New England Journal of Medicine. 1973.
  2. Bro-Jorgensen A, Jensen T. Gonococcal pharyngeal infections. British Journal of Venereal Diseases. 1973.
  3. Dudareva-Vizule S, Haar K, Sailer A, et al. Prevalence of pharyngeal and rectal Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae infections among men who have sex with men in Germany. Sexually Transmitted Infections. 2014.

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