Don't Freak Out, But Gonorrhea Might Be Untreatable Soon

The Short of It:

Doctors are becoming worried that Gonorrhea, a sexually transmitted disease, typically treated with antibiotics (although there are only 2 antibiotics that work), might be become resistant to drug treatment.

The Longer Version of It:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last Thursday that research found that the treatment for gonorrhea (a bacterial disease), which has for so long has been an easy fix with antibiotics, is getting tricky. Research showed the STD is developing a resistance to the drugs used to treat and cure it.

Gonorrhea, which is typically treated with the two antibiotics, azithromycin and ceftriaxone, can cause infertility or chronic pelvic pain in women (if left untreated). On rare occasions, the bacteria can move into the blood stream, infect joints and — in fatal cases — reach the heart.

In their research, the CDC discovered an increase in the number of cases that aren't responding to treatment with antibiotics. Though the rise in cases are small, scientists say the number is indicative of what could happen if the numbers go ignored.

The first author of the CDC report, Dr. Robert Kirkcaldy told STAT that the threat of resistance is only a matter of time. "We think … it's a matter of when and not if with resistance," he said. "This bug is so smart and can mutate so rapidly."

Anyone engaging in sexual contact is susceptible to contracting the disease. That's contact with a penis, vagina, mouth, or anus. According to the CDC, there were 350,062 cases of gonorrhea in the U.S. in 2014. It is estimated to that there are actually 820,000 new cases of gonorrhea infections every year, with only a fraction of cases detected and reported to the federal agency.

The Takeaway:

Wrap it up. This study reveals how seriously we have to take the concept of drug resistance. As gonorrhea continues to demonstrate an ability to develop antibiotic resistance, we have to make sure we're taking steps to protect ourselves and avoid having to seek treatment in the first place. According to the CDC correctly using condoms can majorly reduce the risk of infection. Make sure you keep sexual health as part of your conversations with current and potential partners and always use a condom! You won't regret being safe.

What do you think of the resistance to antibiotics? Tell us in the comments below!

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