First thing first: there is no such thing as Super Gonorrhea. It’s the same gonorrhea it has always been, just a stronger, more resilient strain that no longer responds to the traditional line of treatment. (Penicillin used to be used to treat gonorrhea. It no longer works. Then it became resilient to Azithromycin (a type of antibiotics).) Illnesses will always evolve; it’s nature, just like humans do. This is called Bacteria Mutation, the characteristics of which result in the development of a different disease or strain.
The problem is that these super strains are becoming increasingly difficult to treat. They don’t respond to antibiotics in the way they used to and that combined with increased promiscuity within society means that they’re spreading faster than ever. Two of the biggest reasons for this super strain’s development are the doctor and the patient.
Patients don’t complete full courses of treatment, believing themselves to be cured as soon as the symptoms disappear. That’s not the case at all. The bacteria continues to live, multiplying and, moreover, taking medication on-off without completing a full course has led to the strain becoming resistant and scientists having to find new solutions. It also increases the risk of the person infecting others with the STI unknowingly.
Likewise, there are many doctors who test the patient, prescribe the course of treatment and leave it there. They don’t ask them to return for a follow-up test after the treatment has finished to check that it’s been successful. In something as serious as gonorrhea, you can’t simply assume.
‘Gonorrhea itself is a very fragile organism. It should be easily treated by antibiotic,s but even major pharmaceutical companies like GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) have admitted that half of patients are not cured by taking it anymore.’
What is Gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection caused by unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex, or shared use of sex toys. The bacteria can infect the cervix (womb entrance), urethra (urinal tube), rectum and, less commonly, the throat or eyes.
Common symptoms include: thick green / yellow discharge from the vagina or penis, pain when urinating and, in women, bleeding between periods. This type of bacteria is extremely virulent; it’s quickly transmitted, multiplies and can show symptoms within 48 hours (not 2 weeks as the media claims). However, what makes it dangerous is that 10% of infected men and 50% of women do not report any noticeable symptoms, meaning it often goes undetected.
Another problem is the symptoms are relatively generic so are sometimes misdiagnosed. For example, women have natural discharge so it’s sometimes confused with thrush or bacterial vaginosis, or if she’s also experiencing a burning sensation when urinating, cystitis. Similarly, one male patient with acute gonorrhea thought that the clear purulent penile discharge he was experiencing was semen.
With that in mind, it’s important to participate in regular STI testing and health checks (whether you perceive yourself to be at risk or not). Regular infection and traumatization of the genitals and reproductive organs can have long-term fertility implications, including:
What happens if you contract gonorrhea whilst pregnant?
If you’re pregnant or planning to conceive, it’s vital that you have a clear sexual health. Gonorrhea can cause blindness in babies, something that is becoming increasingly problematic. Regardless of whether mothers have been tested or not, most maternity units now give newborn babies antibiotics via the eye as soon as they’re born to avoid any potential contamination from the genital organs during labour. That shouldn’t be a necessity but it proves how rife (and dangerous) this STI is. It’s also increasing the number of preventable stillbirths, miscarriages (early and mid-trimester) and later intrauterine deaths. Even post-delivery, if the baby has contracted the infection it can result in neonatal death.
Antibiotics will successfully treat (super) gonorrhea. It’s not resilient to all antibiotics, only Azithromycin. Normally one oral antibiotic tablet and one dose of injectable antibiotics will be successful, with the injection helping the medicine to quickly enter the blood stream, whilst facilitating a higher dose to kill the bacteria.
Do arrange an appointment for follow-up testing. Don’t use at home STI testing kits. They only tell you if you’ve got an infection, not what it is or if there are multiple ones.