Myth-busting 5 common beliefs about gonorrhea - Primary Health

Myth-busting 5 common beliefs about gonorrhea

  • July 5, 2023

  • Siiri Kolohe Keola, MPH, CPH

  • 2 minutes

Myths about gonorrhea abound. Get the facts on this sexually transmitted infection (STI) to keep you and your partners healthy.

It’s officially summertime in the northern hemisphere! That means shorts, lemonade, and maybe some sunset dates. While you might be looking forward to hitting the town (or the sheets), let’s clear up some common myths about gonorrhea.

Myth #1: Gonorrhea is not common.

Fact: Gonorrhea is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections worldwide, with an estimated 87 million cases annually across the globe.

Myth #2: Gonorrhea is spread through sharing drinks.

Fact: Gonorrhea is not spread through sharing drinks or other utensils, so you can enjoy your 7/11 Slurpee and not worry about getting gonorrhea! (You can, however, spread other diseases if you share drinks, so maybe get separate drinks instead. They are free on July 11, after all.) Gonorrhea is actually spread through vaginal, anal, and oral sex. Using condoms and dental dams and getting regular STI testing helps prevent the spread of gonorrhea and other STI’s.

Myth #3: Gonorrhea only affects promiscuous individuals.
(Read: People who practice polyamory or consensual non-monogamy.)

Fact: As a sex positive health educator, this is one of my favorite myths to bust! Actually, gonorrhea can affect anyone who engages in sexual activity with an infected individual, regardless of their sexual history or number of sexual partners.

In fact, according to a 2015 peer-reviewed study, participants who reported being in consensually non-monogamous (CNM) relationships – relationships in which all people in the relationship agree to multiple romantic, sexual, and/or intimate partnerships – were at no greater risk of STIs than people who reported being in monogamous relationships, even though they reported having more sexual partners. The study found that participants involved in CNM relationships reported engaging in safer sex, communicating openly with their partners about STIs, and getting tested for STIs more often than those in monogamous relationships.

In contrast, some participants in monogamous relationships reported having had sex with someone other than their primary partner, but they did not access STI testing or inform their partners. All the more reason to practice safer sex, communicate with your sexual partners, and get regularly tested for STI’s!

Myth #4: Gonorrhea is not a serious infection.

Fact: Even though many people with gonorrhea do not show symptoms, gonorrhea is a serious infection. If left untreated, gonorrhea can lead to serious health complications such as infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease, and increased risk of HIV transmission.

Myth #5: Gonorrhea can be cured with home remedies.

Fact: Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that requires medical treatment with antibiotics. Home remedies do not cure gonorrhea. This means that if you suspect you have gonorrhea, instead of hopping on Tik Tok hoping you’ll whip up something at home to cure it, you should contact a licensed medical provider instead.

Learn more about gonorrhea and other STI’s here.

Disclaimer: This blog content and linked materials are not intended as individual medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, and should not be considered as such. Any readers with medical concerns should contact a licensed healthcare provider. This blog is provided for informational purposes only. 

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