Gonorrhea is the second most common bacterial infection in Canada. The bacteria is usually passed on through oral, genital, or anal sex. It can also be passed on when giving birth, or by fingers and sex toys that have come into contact with the bacteria, including touching your eye. In Canada, more than half of reported cases are in people under 30.
The most common symptom of gonorrhea is no symptom – that’s why getting routinely tested is important! 💪 Sometimes symptoms are mild and might be mistaken for a urinary tract or vaginal/fronthole infection. Symptoms might include:
Bacterial infections like gonorrhea often have no symptoms. The only way to know if you have gonorrhea or not is to get tested. Testing is usually done with a urine sample or a swab of the genitals, anus, eye(s), or throat. Having gonorrhea once does not protect someone from getting it again. You can get tested and access treatment at health clinics, including walk-ins, hospitals, some community health centres, or your doctor. Check out your local public health website for more information.
Gonorrhea can be cured. It’s usually treated with a single shot of antibiotics in the buttocks. It’s important to know that there are strains of gonorrhea that are resistant to these antibiotics, sometimes called “super-gonorrhea”. Super-gonorrhea is treated either with different antibiotics that do not show resistance, by taking antibiotics for longer, or by using a combination of different antibiotics. Serious cases of resistant gonorrhea must be treated at a hospital intravenously, making early detection important. If left untreated, gonorrhea can cause serious health problems, including issues with fertility. Since most people don’t have symptoms, routine testing is important for anyone who is sexually active.
Using condoms (including on shared sex toys), and dental dams (for oral sex), is the best way to prevent gonorrhea. You can also wash your hands after removing condoms and avoid touching your eyes. If you shave or wax your pubes, using condoms and lube can help reduce the chances of gonorrhea and other bacteria or viruses from entering your body. Getting tested before or in-between new sexual partner(s) is also a great routine to have in your sexual health regimen.