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Sexually Transmitted Diseases/possible detection of pharyngeal gonorrhea


pharyngeal gonorrhea
pharyngeal gonorrhea  
A little more than two months ago I performed unprotected oral sex on a man. Now, I've developed a 3 day sore throat and mild runny nose. Is it possible to have picked up gonorrhea of the throat two months later? No penile symptoms at all. I've noticed red bumps on the back wall of throat and possible white specks.

Hi Dale,
Sore throats can be caused by streptococcus, gonococcus, chlamydia, acid reflux, sinus drainage, and lots of upper respiratory viruses including influenza, coxsackie, and many others. Sometimes sore throats will be accompanied by redness, red or white dots/specks, white or gray discharge or exudate, or sometimes little blisters or ulcerations.  It is impossible to correlate the signs and symptoms with the actual causative germ. However it is possible although unlikely for gonorrhea to take that long after infection to cause noticeable symptoms. Moreover, the runny nose is suggestive of an upper respiratory virus, as gonorrhea does not cause that sign/symptom.  

My guess is that your sore throat is not from gonorrhea, however it is still important for you to have your throat swabbed to rule out gonorrhea and chlamydia.  Even if you don't get properly diagnosed and/or treated, the sore throat will eventually go away, and there is no good evidence that untreated oral gonorrhea progresses to something worse, although almost all health care providers want to make sure it is effectively treated.  

Hope this isn't too confusing!

Good luck!

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Mark P. Behar


Almost any question or concern about gay men's health issues, sexually transmitted infections, abnormal Pap smears, anal cytology (anal "Pap smears"), etc. There is no such thing as “d/d free” or “clean” (free of infection), so why do so many of us deceive ourselves into thinking that some people are indeed totally free from a potentially infectious disease, like HIV, herpes, hepatitis, syphilis, chlamydia, warts, gonorrhea, etc., just because they say so? Clinical laboratory tests are not perfect, and having a “negative” or “nonreactive” test does not mean that a person is free from infection. Perhaps at the moment the test was taken, the person was uninfected; or, perhaps, the test wasn’t sensitive enough to detect presence of the infection. There is really no way that anyone can determine that they are truly “disease free,” and there are over a hundred of infectious conditions that can be spread without your knowing anything. Rather than trying to “pre-screen” or “serosort” a potential sex-mate with deceptive questions that are impossible to know by today’s technologies, a wiser option may be to consider everyone infected with something, and either use appropriate protective measures (“safer sex”), or accept the responsibility and consequences of possibly “catching” something from someone who’s hotter than expected (pun intended!). There is much research that supports the contention that an HIV positive person reliably taking HIV medications, and having an undetectable viral load, presents a lower risk for transmission of HIV than people who may think or say they are HIV negative, but are not. Food for thought!


Family Practice PA since 1981; Volunteer Clinician for Brady East STD (BESTD) Clinic, Milwaukee, since 1977; answered STD questions submitted to their web site. Professionally lectured at national and regional Physician Assistant and Nurse Practitioner conferences, and at national gay & lesbian health conferences on topics including HIV/AIDS, herpes, hepatitis, STDs, human papilloma virus (the cause of venereal warts), abnormal Pap smears, gay and lesbian health issues, among others.

Co-Founder, Lesbian, Bisexual, & Gay Physician Assistant Caucus of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, Inc.; American Academy of Physician Assistants; Wisconsin Academy of Physician Assistants; National Co-Chair (2012-16), National Association of Black and White Men Together: A Gay, Multiracial Organization for All People (NABWMT)

Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (JAPA) Q Visions, Quarterly Newsletter of the NABWMT

Bachelor's of Arts, 1972 (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI) Graduate Credits Experimental Psychology, 1972-75 (Tulane University, New Orleans, LA) Physician Assistant, Bachelor's of Science, 1981 (George Washington University, Washington, DC); Masters in Physician Assistant Studies, 2000 (University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE)

Awards and Honors
Colposcopy Recognition Award (CRA), the American Association of Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology; Distinguished Fellow, Clinical Preceptor, American Academy of Physician Assistants; Fellow, Wisconsin Academy of Physician Assistants

Past/Present Clients
Brady East STD Clinic, Milwaukee, WI Milwaukee Health Services, Inc. (Martin Luther King Heritage Health Center), Dept. of Family Medicine and Early Intervention Program for HIV Infected Persons

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