Antibiotic Resistance Is Creating An 'Unstoppable' Version Of This STI

Photo: Megan Madden
Here's some cheery news for a Friday. Gonorrhoea, the STI you never really understood, is becoming a big-time problem.
According to the World Health Organization, antibiotic resistance is making the STI "much harder, and sometimes impossible" to treat.
In fact, three cases - in Japan, Spain and France - where no antibiotic treatments have been found to be effective, have also been reported.
"The bacteria that cause gonorrhoea are particularly smart," says Dr. Teodora Wi, the medical officer for Human Reproduction at WHO. "Every time we use a new class of antibiotics to treat the infection, the bacteria evolve to resist them."
If your (no doubt lacklustre) sexual education from school is failing you right now, here's a little reminder of what gonorrhoea is.
It is an infection that is caused by a bacteria which is passed from person to person via unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex. According to the NHS, it can also be transmitted by sharing vibrators that haven't been washed (gross).
Symptoms include "thick green or yellow discharge from the vagina or penis, pain when urinating and bleeding between periods". If left untreated, it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage and infertility.
Sounds less than ideal, right?
According to WHO, an estimated 78 million people a year contract the infection – a growing number they attribute to fewer people using condoms, increased travel and urbanisation and, increasingly, failing treatments.
Over the years 2009-2014, most of the 77 monitored countries reported resistance to the main treatments for gonorrhoea.
"We urgently need to seize the opportunities we have with existing drugs and candidates in the pipeline," says Dr. Manica Balasegaram, the director of the Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership. "Any new treatment developed should be accessible to everyone who needs it, while ensuring it's used appropriately, so that drug resistance is slowed as much as possible."
So don't be mugs, kids – remember to get checked, and practise safe sex.

More from Sex & Relationships

R29 Original Series