LET’S GET INTO IT: GONORRHEA
Gonorrhea is a common bacterial STD that’s sometimes called “the clap” or “the drip” — and most forms of it are totally curable with antibiotics. It’s pretty common and you can get it from having unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has it.
Keep reading for answers to some of the most common questions about gonorrhea, including how it’s treated and where to get tested.
EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT GONORRHEA
HOW IS GONORRHEA SPREAD?
Gonorrhea is spread through sex without a condom with a person who is infected with gonorrhea. That includes oral, vaginal, and anal sex, because the infection is carried in people’s semen (cum), pre-cum, and vaginal fluids.
Gonorrhea is not spread through casual contact, so you can’t get it from hugging, kissing, sharing food and drinks, holding hands, sneezing, or from sitting on toilet seats.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF GONORRHEA?
A lot of people don’t show any symptoms of gonorrhea at all or they have really mild symptoms and don’t recognize them as an STD. If people do have symptoms, they usually show up between one to 10 days after being exposed to the bacteria.
The symptoms of gonorrhea are different for people with penises and people with vaginas. In people with penises, they include discharge, pain or burning sensation during urination, sore throat, or discharge in stools and rectal itching. In people with vaginas, symptoms include discharge, lower abdominal pain, pain during urination, sore throat, pain or discomfort during sex, discharge in stools, and rectal itching.
HOW COMMON IS GONORRHEA?
Gonorrhea is one of the most common STDs, partially because it often doesn’t have symptoms.
SHOULD I GET TESTED FOR GONORRHEA?
If you’re showing symptoms of gonorrhea or a sexual partner has told you that they tested positive, yes, absolutely. Otherwise, once a year along with all of your other STD tests should be good.
WHERE CAN I GET TESTED FOR GONORRHEA?
Your doctor can test you for gonorrhea if you’re showing symptoms, or as part of your yearly checkup. But if you don’t have a regular doctor — or you just don’t feel comfortable talking to them about this issue — check out our map for testing sites around DC.
HOW MUCH DOES GONORRHEA TESTING COST?
That depends! If you have insurance, it may cover STD testing, either fully or partially. Your best bet is to give them a call and see what their policy is. But there are also clinics that offer testing on a sliding scale fee, which means it could be as cheap as “free” if you qualify. Once you’ve decided on the clinic you’re interested in visiting, give them a ring and ask about costs.
HOW IS GONORRHEA TREATED?
If you test positive for gonorrhea, a doctor will treat it with antibiotics. You may get a shot of a medication called Rocephin, but if you’re squeamish about needles, you could take Cefixime, which comes in a pill or liquid. Then, you’ll want to get tested three months after treatment to make sure the infection is completely gone.
HOW DO I PROTECT MYSELF?
Gonorrhea is common, but there’s one cheap, easy, and accessible way to prevent it: Condoms! Because the infection lives in fluids (like cum and vaginal fluids), condoms provide great protection against it. We’ll even give you some for free!
You can also avoid re-infection by getting treated if you have symptoms — and making sure your partner gets treated, too. That way you can avoid passing the infection back and forth.