Gonorrhea transmission

Updated on:
August 7, 2021

can be transmitted

There are different ways that gonorrhea transmission can happen, and the possibility of transmission can vary according to what kind of sex you’re having. For example, the risk of transmitting gonorrhea is increased when performing oral sex on a penis compared to performing annalingus.

Gonorrhea can be transmitted through oral, vaginal, and anal sex. It can pass from penis to mouth to vaginal to anus, or any combination of two of these sexual organs. Fingers and sex toys that have infected fluid can also transmit gonorrhea to any of these sex organs, but is less common. 

Oral sex on the penis

Giving oral sex to a partner with gonorrhea on their penis can transmit the infection to your mouth/throat.

Receiving oral sex on the penis from a partner with a gonorrhea infection in their throat can transmit gonorrhea from the mouth to the penis.

Oral sex on the vagina

Performing oral sex on a partner with a gonorrhea infection in the vagina or urinary tract can result in a gonorrhea infection of your throat/mouth.

Receiving oral sex on the vagina from a partner with a gonorrhea infection of the throat can get a gonorrhea infection of the rectum and vagina.

Oral sex on the anus

Giving oral sex to (rimming) a partner with a gonorrhea infection in the rectum can result in getting gonorrhea in your throat/mouth.

Receiving oral sex on the anus from a partner with a gonorrhea infection of the throat can get a gonorrhea infection of the rectum.

Vaginal sex

Having penis-to-vagina penetrative sex with a partner with gonorrhea infection of the vagina or urinary tract can result in getting gonorrhea of the penis.

Receiving penetrative vaginal sex from a partner with a gonorrhea infection of the penis can get a gonorrhea infection of the vagina.

Fingering the vagina may transmit gonorrhea if the recipient has a gonorrheal infection of the vagina, especially when bodily fluids contact the hand.

Anal sex

Having insertive penis-to-anus penetrative sex (topping) with a partner with a gonorrhea infection of the rectum can get gonorrhea of the penis.

Receiving penetrative anal sex (bottoming) from a partner with a gonorrhea infection of the penis can get a gonorrhea infection of the rectum.

Fingering the rectum may transmit gonorrhea if the recipient has a gonorrheal infection of the anus. When bodily fluids carrying the disease come into contact with the hand, this can transfer gonorrhea to mucous membranes it comes into contact with (i.e. genitals, mouth, throat, rectum, eyes).

Use of sex toys

Sharing of sex toys can result in gonorrheal transmission if infected fluids come into contact with the toy. To prevent gonorrhea transmission through using sex toys, ensure you’re using condoms and/or washing your toys after and before each use.

Gonorrhea treatments

If you have tested positive for gonorrhea, it’s important to remember that it’s a treatable infection. Once treated and advised by a doctor that the infection is cured you can resume sexual activity. However, it is possible to be re-infected multiple times. Making sure that you, and all of your recent sexual partners, are notified about potential exposure and treated is of the utmost importance to prevent further transmission of gonorrhea.

For more information about treatments, see our article covering everything you need to know about gonorrhea treatments.

Reviewed by:
Dr. Caley Shukalek

Caley is passionate about evidence-based, patient-centred care, including telemedicine that can provide high quality care from wherever a patient may choose.

He helped create Alberta's PrEP guidelines and works as a specialist in General Internal Medicine with additional training in sexual health, including HIV and sexually transmitted infections.

He holds an Masters of Public Health from Johns Hopkins University, an MD from the University of Calgary and an MSc from the University of Alberta.