Sore Throat Could Be A Sign Of Common STI, Expert Warns
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A sexual health expert is urging people to be aware of possible symptoms of common STDs, such as a sore throat, which may be mistaken as signs of a common cold.
Doctor Manoj Malu, Director and Founder of Clarewell Clinics, said a symptom that may be overlooked as a sign of a chlamydia and gonorrhoea infection is a sore throat.
Although the doctor explains that there is no easy way of distinguishing between cold and flu symptoms and a sore throat as a result of a sexually transmitted infection, it’s important to be aware of what activities you’ve done with your sexual partner, or partners, and to be honest and open when seeking treatment at a clinic.
Doctor Manoj tells Tyla that if your sore throat and you have given oral sex, chlamydia and gonorrhoea in the throat can be possible causes.
He adds: “If one has other general symptoms like headaches, fevers, night time sweating and skin rash, then syphilis and HIV are the key considerations amongst STIs as they can produce a sore throat in combination of general symptoms.”
If you have recently practiced oral sex and find yourself with a sore throat, Doctor Manoj says it’s important to get an STI test, including a throat swab for chlamydia and gonorrhoea and a blood test for syphilis and HIV.
“Standard sexual health screenings include these four infections, but you may need to request and highlight the need for a throat swab as well.
"Specialist sexual health clinics would do oral swabs for chlamydia and gonorrhoea as a matter of routine and would not be bewildered with your request for an oral swab.
He adds: “Many STI tests on the NHS don't test the throat, so it is important to give an honest answer in the clinic about your sexual experience because it will prompt the clinician to look for the infections in the throat by sending the swabs from mouth and throat to the laboratory for testing.”
Doctor Manoj says his clinic regularly sees patients who test positive for chlamydia and gonorrhoea in the throat, only to realise that they had actually been suffering with throat symptoms they didn’t think about much until they got a positive result.
“However, there are some people who do come forward for their throat swabs after they have got throat symptoms after a sexual encounter,” he adds.
There is a higher likelihood of heterosexual women and gay men to get STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhoea in the throat after giving oral sex.
It's “unusual” to get localised infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea without giving oral sex. However infections like Syphilis and HIV, which spread through the blood, could lead to symptoms like a sore throat alongside other symptoms like a fever or a skin rash.
Doctor Manoj theorised that the reason why his clinic sees “huge numbers” of chlamydia and gonorrhoea cases is because many people believe oral sex is a safer alternative to vaginal or anal sex and they don't follow the same protective steps they would for their genitals.
“Many people believe that oral sex is safe,” he says. “They focus on their genitalia as an organ of concern for their sexual health.
"In today's society, the mouth is no less of a sexual organ, although unlike genitalia, it lags behind on its reproductive ability!
"The real role of silent STIs in the throat is as a very effective means of continued transmission of STIs.
"These infections do not cause serious damage to the throat, but they do jeopardise the health and fertility of their partners when they reach their genitalia.”
You can find out more about STI testing on the NHS website.