Super Gonorrhea: 7 Things You Need to Know

Gonorrhea, possibly the most well-known of its kind, has gone “super.” The infection often presents without any symptoms, and can cause serious health problems if it isn’t treated. Should you be worried that the most common sexually transmitted disease is getting harder to treat? Probably. But all hope isn’t lost — yet.

Where did it come from? What happens if the treatments we have stop working? Most importantly, if we can’t rely on antibiotics to save us, what’s the one thing we can do to win the fight against super gonorrhea?

1. Usually, antibiotics are enough to cure gonorrhea

Male doctor talking to patient

But in this case, that cure doesn’t seem to work. | Seb_ra/iStock/Getty Images

  • The first wave of medications to treat gonorrhea — antibiotics — is almost always effective.

People living with gonorrhea are typically given does of two separate antibiotics to treat and cure the condition. In most cases, as long as patients take these medications as prescribed and finish out the dosage, they’re fine.

Next: But what happens when this doesn’t work?

2. One guy wasn’t so lucky

Rosemary Petty, a Publix Supermarket pharmacy technician, counts out a prescription of antibiotic pills

This man had an unusually difficult time. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

  • Antibiotic resistance prevented the usual treatment from working.

A man in the UK presented with a form of gonorrhea that didn’t respond as expected to the usual antibiotic treatments. When they didn’t cure the infection, he had to receive a much more aggressive treatment.

Next: Here’s something you might not know about superbugs.

3. ‘Super gonorrhea’ is the latest antibiotic-resistant infection

 researcher working in biology lab

Scientists are working on beating the strain. | Gorodenkoff/iStock/Getty Images

  • Scientists have been worried about superbugs for awhile.

When we think of the end of the world, we usually picture natural disasters, nuclear warfare, or power-hungry aliens. Many scientists worry that microbes could take us all out instead. We rely on antibiotics to treat and cure many potentially fatal diseases. If they stopped working, we all might stop living.

Next: The bacteria that cause gonorrhea learned to resist treatment — but how?

4. How did gonorrhea get so smart?

Antibiotics

A rise in antibiotics may be to blame. | Artisteer/iStock/Getty Images

  • The more we misuse antibiotics, the smarter bacteria will get.

Where did super gonorrhea come from? Basically, it evolved from previous strains that learned to resist the best treatments we have against it. Some might say there’s an antibiotic misuse “epidemic” going on — such as using antibiotics for viral infections, or not finishing the antibiotics you’re prescribed.

Next: So that’s it? Is super gonorrhea going to be the next deadly pandemic?

5. Is super gonorrhea deadly?

hospital bed

Can super gonorrhea kill you? | Darren McCollester/Getty Images

  • Most cases of gonorrhea aren’t fatal.

In most cases, gonorrhea will not kill you. Rarely, untreated infections can spread from the genitals to other parts of the body. This can cause potentially deadly complications like blood poisoning and meningitis. Most of the time, less dangerous — but still serious — things happen without treatment.

Next: If a sexually transmitted infection can’t kill you, what’s so scary about it?

6. What happens if you don’t treat gonorrhea?

Pregnancy test strip

A woman’s ability to get pregnant may be jeopardized. | Foremniakowski/iStock/Getty Images

  • Gonorrhea isn’t deadly, but untreated cases can cause infertility issues.

While infections like gonorrhea aren’t fatal, they can cause serious health problems beyond unusual burning or discharge. In both men and women, seeking immediate treatment can prevent the infertility issues that often result from chronic inflammation and other negative long-term side effects.

Next: Are we all doomed? Is there a way to stop this from happening?

7. What’s the best way to prevent super gonorrhea?

A view of condoms

Condoms, condoms, condoms | Chris Jackson / Pool/Getty Images

  • You might have learned about practicing safe sex in sex ed — but just in case.

Though many sexually transmitted infections are treatable with antibiotics, one of your best defenses against more dangerous versions of these health issues is to practice safe sex. No one of any age or gender is immune. Get tested, communicate with your partner(s), and use condoms. They work.

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