There is a recent emergence of treatment-resistant strains of gonorrhea. Many experts fear we could be on the verge of a “post-antimicrobial era”. Common infections may once again kill instead of being easily treatable. It’s crucial for sexually active individuals to understand the risks and take sensible precautions to prevent infection. The threat posed by treatment-resistant gonorrhea is very real. Read on to learn more about the seriousness of this infection and how you can protect yourself from contracting it or other STDs/STIs.
What is treatment-resistant gonorrhea?
Treatment-resistant gonorrhea is an infection that resists treatment with antibiotics. The drugs doctors prescribe most often to treat it include penicillin, tetracycline, and cephalosporin. This is a global health concern that has been on the rise across the world since 2007. Infection can be cured with antibiotics, but an increasing number of antibiotic-resistant strains have been identified. The threat of an untreatable infection could be imminent as scientists predict that resistance to cephalosporin will increase rapidly.
Why is there an increased risk of treatment-resistant gonorrhea?
There are two main reasons why there is a higher frequency of treatment-resistant gonorrhea. Overuse of antibiotics and decreased condom use. The bacteria that cause gonorrhea have been evolving for millennia, and as they change, they acquire genetic mutations that allow them to resist antibiotic treatment. Bacteria are also able to share genetic material with one another, enabling them to swap resistance gene fragments. Antibiotic use in humans and livestock has expedited this process, selecting ever-more-resistant strains of gonorrhea.
Symptoms of Gonorrhea
The most common symptom of gonorrhea is a thick, white, yellow, or green discharge from the urethra or vaginal area. Other symptoms include pain while urinating, abdominal pain, painful sex, and bleeding during urination or menstruation. Some people do not show any signs or symptoms of gonorrhea. It is important to remember that it can cause serious long-term complications, especially if left untreated.
What are the Risks?
Gonorrhea can lead to numerous serious and long-lasting health problems if left untreated. It can lead to infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Testing is important because babies can become infected during birth which can result in blindness, joint infections, and blood infections that are life-threatening.
Treatment Options for Gonorrhea
Since the late 1990s, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had recommended dual therapy for uncomplicated gonorrhea infections. In 2019, treatment guidelines were updated, therefore high dose Ceftriaxone is now used due to increased resistance concerns.
There are several ways to stay safer. One of the best ways is condom use during vaginal, anal, and oral sex can help prevent infections. Similarly, STD/STI testing can ensure your health and quarterly STD/STI testing is important for sexually active people. More studies are needed due to rising concerns and a lack of resistance data. Keep yourself and your partners safe and make sure to use condoms correctly and get tested regularly.