Q&A: My Husband Has Gonorrhea—Did He Cheat?

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QUESTION: I've been married for five years. My husband and I were both virgins when we got married, and we never had sex with anyone else after that. A week ago, he tested positive for gonorrhea. Is gonorrhea only transmitted by sexual activity? Did my husband cheat on me?

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Some couples value monogamy and commit to only have sex with each other. Other couples decide to have some degree of an open relationship, which may allow for one or both of them to have sex with other people.

Transmitting STI’s

I am sorry to say this but it is true that gonorrhea is a sexually transmissible infection (STI).

A person cannot get gonorrhea from toilet seats or from shaking hands or from hugging or kissing. Gonorrhea is transmitted from oral sex, vaginal sex and anal sex.

Gonorrhea is also easily transmitted from one person to another person when they have sex.

In addition, many people who have gonorrhea don’t show any symptoms of the infection. As such, I would suggest that you talk to your own healthcare provider and let him or her know that your husband has tested positive for gonorrhea and that you would like to get tested for gonorrhea and other STIs, such as chlamydia and HIV, as well.

I would also encourage you to consider using a condom if or when you have sex with your husband until you know that he no longer has gonorrhea. Otherwise you might end up passing gonorrhea back and forth to each other.

Read the rest of Dr. Herbenick’s response.

Next Question: I normally use regular latex condoms when I have sex with my girlfriend, but I’ve heard that lambskin condoms can give better sensitivity. True?

Lambskin and other natural skin condoms are certainly one alternative to latex condoms. While it is true that some men experience more sensation during sex when using a natural skin condom, this benefit comes with a cost.

Although natural skin condoms greatly reduce the risk of pregnancy, they do not provide protection against sexually transmissible infections, or STIs. That’s because the small pores in natural skin condoms are big enough to allow these infectious organisms through them, and transmit from one person to another.

If preventing pregnancy is your only concern, then natural skin condoms may indeed be an option for you. However, you might want to make sure that you and your partner have been tested for STIs prior to switching condom types.

Read the rest of Dr. Debby Herbenick’s response.

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Dr. Debby Herbenick (M.P.H., Ph.D.)

is a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, Associate Director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University and author of several books including Sex Made Easy and Because It Feels Good: A Woman's Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction.
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