Gonorrhea – sometimes called “the Clap” –may soon reach superbug status, thanks to growing antibiotic resistance to the common sexually transmitted infection.
Fresh studies show that treating gonorrhea is becoming more difficult because the bacterium has become resistant to many antibiotics. If trends continue, researchers say there is a very real possibility that some strains of Neisseria gonorrhoeae may become resistant to all current treatment options.
Gonorrhea is a common STD in the US. In 2014, over 350,000 cases of gonorrhea were reported to the CDC in the US. Infections are particularly common in young people, and less than half of those infections are reported and treated. In California alone, there were almost 45,000 reported cases of gonorrhea in 2014.
The bacteria that causes gonorrhea likes to live in moist areas of the body like the vagina, penis, eyes, throat, and rectum. You can get gonorrhea from contact with any of these areas on someone who is infected – that includes all types of sex, including oral, vaginal, and anal sex.
Most people who have it don’t know it because they don’t have symptoms. Men are more likely to have symptoms than women. Men might experience burning when they pee, a white, yellow, or green discharge from the penis, or painful, swollen testicles. A few women have pain when they pee or pain in their lower abdomen.
Any clinician can do a simple and painless urine test to find out if you have gonorrhea. Your doctor may also collect a swab sample from the vagina, cervix , urethra, rectum or throat during a physical exam.
If you test positive for gonorrhea, get tested again three (3) months later to make sure you don’t have it again. Condoms do decrease your chances of getting gonorrhea during vaginal sex or during oral sex with a male, but it’s important for both partners to get tested because it’s easy to get re-infected if one partner still has it.
The current drugs of choice, ceftriaxone and cefixime, are still very effective but there are signs that resistance, particularly to cefixime, is emerging and soon these drugs may not be a good choice
The only method that is 100% effective in preventing STDs is abstinence, but if you’re sexually active, the best way to avoid gonorrhea is to be mutually monogamous with someone who has tested negative for gonorrhea.