STDs Expert Forum
Can only one partner have Gonorrhea?
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The STD Forum is intended only for questions and support pertaining to sexually transmitted diseases other than HIV/AIDS, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, human papillomavirus, genital warts, trichomonas, other vaginal infections, nongonoccal urethritis (NGU), cervicitis, molluscum contagiosum, chancroid, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). All questions will be answered by H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D. or Edward W Hook, MD.

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Can only one partner have Gonorrhea?

I am a 19 year old female and have had sex with the same partner for the last 2 years.  I have annual female exams and pap smears. The last annual exam was April 2005.  I recently went in for an additional check-up to change my birth control and found out I had gonorrhea (no systems).  My boyfriend then went and was checked at the local health department and his test came up negative.  They are sending his test to the lab for further verification, but how could I have STD and he not be positive also?  

The only person I could have gotten this from is him.  I have had no other sexual relationships in at least 2 years and have had at least 3 pap smears.  

Could my tests in the past have mis-diagnosed it?  And if I had gotten it 2 years ago, wouldn't I have given him gonorrhea after all this time.  

If both of us have been faithful to each other for 2 years, how could only one of us now have gonorrhea?
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Assuming you are being truthful about your sexual history, you could only have acquired gonorrhea from your current sex partner.  So what are the possible explanation of his negative test?

1) You might have a false-positive test; that is, you might not have gonorrhea.  This depends a bit on the test that was done.  With modern gonorrhea tests, this is an unlikely explanation.

2) Your partner had a false-negative test; that is, he has gonorrhea but the test missed it.  This also depends on what test was done.

3) Your partner had gonorrhea, but the infection cleared up on its own before he was tested.  Gonorrhea typically goes away in a few weeks, even without treatment.

4) Perhaps he is not telling you the truth about his test, which really was positive.  You are in a better position than I am to judge whether this is likely or not.

5) He knew he had gonorrhea, or had symptoms, and was treated before his test was done.

As to your last question, you could not have gotten gonorrhea if neither of you had sex with other partners in the past 2 years.  Except for option no. 1 above, your boyfriend must have had other partner(s).  But only you can judge whether or not that is likely.

While you work this out, do not take chances:  Your partner needs treatment for gonorrhea, regardless of his test result; and you both need to be checked for other STDs, especially chlamydia.  But if you believe your boyfriend is telling you the truth, then talk to your provider about what gonorrhea test was done and how reliable it is.

Good luck-- HHH, MD
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H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D.Blank
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