Gonorrhea is an infection caused by bacteria, and it can be found in the penis, vagina, anus and throat.
Not everyone who has gonorrhoea has visible or perceptible symptoms, but if there are symptoms they often appear within a few days of infection. Left untreated gonorrhoea can lead to infections in the epididymis and Fallopian tubes, which in turn can lead to infertility. The infection can also result in difficulties in childbirth, and the bacterium can cause severe arthritis.
How do you get gonorrhea?
Gonorrhoea is transmitted through various forms of sexual contact. The bacterium is transmitted through mucus membrane contact, for example during oral, vaginal, and anal sex, but can also be spread via fingers or by sharing sex toys. Condoms are the most effective protection against transmitting gonorrhoea during sexual contact, but the bacterium spreads very easily, so condoms aren’t 100 % effective. The infection can also be transmitted to the foetus during pregnancy and the child during childbirth.
In cases where there are symptoms, they come in the form of inflammation in the urethra, throat, vagina and/or rectum. It may be painful to pee, and there may also be discharge from the urethra.
Gonorrhoea does not always have symptoms which means people could be carrying the infection without realising. If the throat is infected there may be no symptoms at all, so often it goes unnoticed, or is mistaken for a cold or the flu. Therefore, it’s a good idea to have regular checks at a youth clinic or sexual health clinic to keep an eye on your sexual health.
Since gonorrhoea can be found in the throat, vagina, penis, and anus, this is where the health professionals have to test. This is why it’s important to tell the nurse/doctor how you have had sex, although it might seem a bit embarrassing. A frank talk will ensure that the correct samples are taken. The urethra is normally tested by giving a urine sample. However, if you have symptoms such as discharge, sampling will be done with a swab. Make sure you don’t urinate right before giving the sample! The throat and rectum are tested with a swab, as well as the cervix. Testing takes just a few minutes. Testing and treatment are always free of charge in Sweden.
If it turns out you have gonorrhoea, you will have to take part in a contact tracing. In order to find others who may have gonorrhoea, you’ll be asked who you’ve had sex with recently. It may feel a bit strange, but it’s a way of showing consideration for the people you’ve had sex with. It gives them an opportunity to check that they’re healthy. You can choose to notify your partners in person, but if you prefer not to, the clinic will notify them without divulging who gave their name.
If you’re named as a sexual partner of someone else who has caught gonorrhoea, you’ll have to go and get tested.
Gonorrhoea is treated with antibiotics to clear up the infection completely. Internationally, there is concern for strands of gonorrhoea that are resistant to antibiotics, but so far, all cases of gonorrhoea in Sweden have been treated successfully. Testing and treatment for gonorrhoea are always free of charge in Sweden.