Oral sex is spreading a nasty strain of unstoppable bacteria
There are plenty of health warnings about the rise of a super-bug in relation to oral sex. Keep reading to find out more.
You've had a steamy night that involved lot of sex, including lots of oral sex. The next day, you get an unbearable ache in your throat. You go to the doctor and you're diagnosed with gonorrhoea.
In the past if this happened, you'd probably be prescribed a course of antibiotics and after a few days, you'd be well on your way to recovery.
But now, there's a dangerous new twist to this scenario. Oral sex is increasingly resulting in a highly virulent strain of gonorrhoea, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The warning is that now, with this latest development, gonorrhoea is much more difficult to treat, and in some cases, impossible. The situation is made worse by a drop in condom use.
Why is this STD hard to treat now?
Like many common infections, the bacteria that causes gonorrhoea is rapidly developing antibiotic resistence. In other words, it has morphed into a super-bug. This was discovered quite recently by WHO researchers, who analysed data from 77 countries and discovered this infection's resistance to antibiotics was across-the-board.
Dr Teodora Wi, from the WHO, said there had even been three cases - in Japan, France and Spain - where the infection was completely untreatable.
She said: "Gonorrhoea is a very smart bug, every time you introduce a new class of antibiotics to treat gonorrhoea, the bug becomes resistant."
The worst part of your body to get infected...
The bacteria that causes gonorrhoea may infect the genitals, rectum and throat. However, it is the last of these that has health professionals the most worried.
According to Dr. Wi, antibiotics could actually cause bacteria that is naturally found in the back of the throat (including relatives of gonorrhoea) to develop resistance.
She said: "When you use antibiotics to treat infections like a normal sore throat, this mixes with the Neisseria species in your throat and this results in resistance."
So, when gonorrhoea bacteria is thrust into this environment via oral sex, the result could very well be super-gonorrhoea.
Meanwhile, Manica Balasegaram, from the Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership, said calls the situation "fairly grim." "There are only three drug candidates in the entire drug [development] pipeline and no guarantee any will make it out," she says.
Gonorrhoea: Cause, signs and symptoms
A bacterium called Neisseria gonorrhoea causes this disease, which is spread via unprotected vaginal, oral and anal sex.
Symptoms include pain during urination, bleeding between periods and a thick yellow or green genital discharge. This disease may also present with no easily recognisable symptoms.
Risks of leaving this infection untreated include severe pelvic inflammation and in women infertility. The infection may also be passed on to a child in pregnancy.
According to medical experts at Mayo Clinic, here are some things you could do to lessen the risk of this disease:
- Use a condom whenever possible.
- Get a regular health check, which should include sexual health too.
- If your partner has unusual symptoms (eg. burning during urination, itchiness etc) don't have sex until the reason for the symptoms has been found.
Also, if you or your partner get this infection and undergo treatment, experts advise that you abstain from unprotected sex for at least seven days after you finish your treatment course.