Gonorrhea is an infection caused by bacteria, and it can be found in the penis, vagina, anus and throat. Not everyone who has gonorrhea has visible or perceptible symptoms, but if there are symptoms they often appear within a few days of infection. Left untreated gonorrhea 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.
Gonorrhea is far more commonplace abroad than in Sweden, and some areas have problems with resistant bacteria that are more difficult to treat. If you have had sexual contact abroad, it may therefore be a good idea to get tested when you return to Sweden.
HOW DO YOU GET GONORRHEA?
Gonorrhea 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 gonorrhea during sexual contact, but the bacteria spreads very easily. The infection can also be transmitted to children during pregnancy and 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.
Gonorrhea does not, however, always have symptoms which means people could be carrying the infection without realizing. If the throat is infected there are often no symptoms at all, so often it goes unnoticed because it can’t be felt or seen. It’s therefore a good idea to have regular checks at a youth clinic or sexual health clinic to keep an eye on your own sexual health.
TESTING & TREATMENT
Since gonorrhea can be found in the throat, vagina, penis and anus, this is where the health professionals have to test. It is therefore important that you tell them honestly how you have had sex. This will ensure the correct samples are taken. The throat and anus are tested by swabbing a small cotton bud against the mucous membrane for a second or two. The urethra is usually tested by a urine sample. A small cotton bud is only used if you have symptoms. This may sting a bit but it passes in a second or so. Testing and treatment are always free of charge.
If you turn out to have gonorrhea, you will have to take part in an infection trace. In order to find others who may have gonorrhea, you’ll be asked who you’ve had sex with recently. It may feel a bit strange, but it’s a good way of showing consideration for the people you’ve had sex with. It gives them an opportunity to check that they’re healthy. This is what an infection trace is – sounds kinda weird, but it’s a great thing!
If you’re named as a sexual partner of someone else who has caught gonorrhea, you’ll have to go and get tested.
Testing and treatment for gonorrhea are always free of charge in Sweden.