Gonorrhea Is Becoming More Resistant To Antibiotics, So That's Terrifying

by Candice Jalili

If you weren't already sold on using a condom every single time you have sex with someone, the World Health Organization (WHO) just released a statement that might give you a little extra urge to wrap it up next time.

I know what you're thinking: "Ugh, Candice! I hate condoms! They're so uncomfortable!"

Well, you know what else is pretty uncomfortable? Gonorrhea.

Don't go calling me psychic, but I have a feeling I know what you're thinking, again: "But, Candice, gonorrhea is easily treatable! Ask all 90 of my friends who got it in college!"

This is where I have to come in with some troubling news for you.

Apparently, gonorrhea may not be so easily treatable anymore.

According to WHO, gonorrhea is becoming harder to treat than ever as a result of it becoming more and more resistant to antibiotics. It's gotten so bad that the disease is allegedly becoming impossible to treat in some cases, Refinery29 reports.

WHO reached this conclusion after sourcing data from 77 different countries, of which, Japan, France, and Spain were the only ones to show untreatable strains of gonorrhea.

Did we see this coming?

Mauro Grigollo

This isn't actually the first time research has found that gonorrhea was becoming resistant to treatment.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), gonorrhea has developed a resistance to every single kind of antibiotic used to treat it throughout history. This includes everything from penicillin to the azithromycin and ceftriaxone we use today.

A year ago, the CDC warned us that it was only a matter of time before our bodies grew resistant to the antibiotics commonly used to treat the STD. The study's author, Dr. Robert Kirkcaldy explained back in 2016, "We think … it's a matter of when and not if with resistance. This bug is so smart and can mutate so rapidly.”

And that "when" is now.

Dr. Teodora Wi, a human reproduction specialist at WHO, echoed Kirkcaldy's sentiments in the new WHO press release: "The bacteria that cause gonorrhea are particularly smart. Every time we use a new class of antibiotics to treat the infection, the bacteria evolve to resist them."

How can I tell if I have gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is pretty common. The CDC reports that there that there are about 820,000 new cases of gonorrhea in the United States every year.

The scary part? Many people who get infected with gonorrhea don't show any symptoms, so a lot of them don't even know they have it. As a result, less than half of the cases of gonorrhea are even diagnosed and reported.

If you do end up having symptoms, they might include "painful or burning urination, discharge from the genitals, or bleeding from the vagina between periods," according to Refinery29.

If gonorrhea shows up as an anal infection, the symptoms can include "discharge, anal itching, soreness, bleeding, or painful bowel movements."

What happens if it goes untreated?


So we know that treating the disease has become more difficult than ever, but why is that even a big deal?

Well, unfortunately, untreated gonorrhea can turn into a pretty BFD.

An untreated case of the infection can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease. Besides just sounding gross and scary, pelvic inflammatory disease can cause pain and infertility.

Luckily for all of us, there's a pretty simple solution here: Get tested regularly and use condoms religiously.