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Unsafe Oral Sex Is Leading To A Rise In Untreatable Gonorrhoea

Be a little bit wiser baby, put it on, put it on.

07/09/2017 13:17 EDT | Updated 07/09/2017 14:06 EDT

If tonight is the night when "2 become 1," don't forget to wrap it up otherwise you could face some serious consequences.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), unsafe oral sex and the decline of condom use is leading to the rise of untreatable, antibiotic-resistant gonorrhoea.

The sexually-transmitted infection (STI) affects roughly 78 million people every year, but is now "much harder, and sometimes impossible, to treat," reports the WHO, which analyzed data from 77 countries.

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"The bacteria that cause gonorrhoea are particularly smart. Every time we use a new class of antibiotics to treat the infection, the bacteria evolve to resist them," said Dr. Teodora Wi, medical officer, human reproduction, at WHO, who added that there have been three cases — in Japan, France, and Spain — where the infection was untreatable.

The organization reports "widespread resistance to older and cheaper antibiotics," and that some countries, "particularly high-income ones," are seeing cases where the infection is untreatable by all antibiotics.

And the problem might be more widespread than originally thought.

"These [reported] cases may just be the tip of the iceberg, since systems to diagnose and report untreatable infections are lacking in lower-income countries where gonorrhoea is actually more common," noted Dr. Wi.

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According to the WHO, the rise in the infection is due to "decreasing condom use, increased urbanisation and travel, poor infection detection rates, and inadequate or failed treatment."

This issue might not be resolved for a while, as the WHO notes that there are no "affordable, rapid, point-of-care diagnostic tests for gonorrhoea."

It also doesn't help that many people (about one in 10 heterosexual men, more than three-quarters of women, and gay men) infected with gonorrhoea don't have symptoms, so many of the cases go undiagnosed and are left untreated.

These [reported] cases may just be the tip of the iceberg, since systems to diagnose and report untreatable infections are lacking in lower-income countries where gonorrhoea is actually more common.

Symptoms that do show up can include a thick green or yellow discharge from sexual organs, pain when urinating, and bleeding between periods.

When left untreated, the infection can lead to infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease, an increased risk of HIV, and can be passed on to a child during pregnancy, according to the BBC.

Gonorrhoea is spread by unprotected vaginal, oral, and anal sex.

To learn more about gonorrhoea, check out the FPA's guide to the STI.