BREAKING NEWS: Super gonorrhoea is on the loose. Run for your lives.

If you’ve read a headline or two about ‘super gonorrhoea’ you’d be excused for thinking that we’re about to hit another AIDS epidemic. ‘Untreatable’ was the term used by most LGBT media outlets. So we’ve decided to break down just what is super gonorrhoea, and whether you should be scared of it.

What exactly is (the non super) gonorrhoea?

Gonorrhoea, or ‘the clap’, is a bacterial infection of the urethra, throat or eyes (ouch). It can be passed on by rimming, blowjobs, anal or vaginal sex. 

What is super gonorrhoea?

Super gonorrhoea is a term given to the ‘untreatable’ version of gonorrhoea with one dose. But don’t panic… it is treatable. The important thing is to know that in the UK gonorrhoea can still be cured by antibiotics.

But… gonorrhoea is changing and the antibiotics used to treat it are getting less effective. For this reason, clinics now need to give higher doses and this means that a pill on its own is not enough. The drug must now be given as an injection into the buttock. A second, different antibiotic is also given as a tablet to increase the chance that treatment works. Because of the possibility of drug resistant gonorrhoea, clinics now call you back to test that your treatment has worked (until recently they would often give one pill and not ask you to return to the clinic).

So what’s the big deal?

Some experts believe that within a few years treating gonorrhoea will be difficult or no longer possible around the world, including in the UK. Yikes!

Bacteria (like gonorrhoea) can be killed by antibiotics but often they grow resistant to these drugs. With gonorrhoea this has happened many times over past decades. One type of antibiotic gradually stops being effective and a new antibiotic takes its place, until the bacteria develops resistance to it too, and a new drug is needed, and so it goes on.

Unfortunately, there are no new types of antibiotic against gonorrhoea on the horizon. Unless new ones are created (and none are in the pipeline) we will have no effective treatments once the current antibiotics stop working.

Do we need to panic?

At this moment, nope. But you should try your best to avoid it. Here’s how:

The more people you have sex with, the more likely you are to get an STI, including gonorrhoea. Using condoms will prevent many cases of gonorrhoea. If you wanted to reduce the risks further, you would have to use condoms for oral sex. 

How do I know I’ve got it?

Noticeable symptoms can include a white or greenish pus discharge from your genitals and a burning sensation when you wee or cum. Infection in your anus / rectum may be noticeable by a yellowish discharge, fresh blood on your poo, mild diarrhoea, or itching and pain when pooing. Infection via your mouth can result in a sore throat. Sometimes there are no symptoms, or they are too mild to be noticeable, particularly with gonorrhoea in the throat or rectum / anus. A sexual health clinic can test you for gonorrhoea and this should form part of routine sexual health check-ups. It is tested for by taking a urine sample or a swab from your genitals and bum.

How do I get it treated?

Gonorrhoea and super gonorrhoea are treatable with antibiotics and are completely curable. Left untreated the body’s natural defences would normally be able to clear gonorrhoea from the system, although this would take several months (during which time the infection could be spread to other sexual partners) and be painful. In some cases, untreated gonorrhoea can spread to the prostate gland and balls, which may lead to infertility. In the worst case scenario, it could also spread throughout your body causing inflammation of the joints and septicaemia, which can, in rare cases, be fatal.

If you have gonorrhoea you should inform your recent sexual partners. It’s important that you tell any regular partner so that they can get tested and treated too. You then need to avoid sex with them until the treatment has taken effect (usually a couple of weeks) as it’s common for people to pass it back and forth to each other. If this happens you’ll need treatment again.

Which sexual partners should I inform if I’ve been diagnosed with gonorrhoea?

If you have urethral symptoms, you should inform anyone you’ve had sex with up to two weeks before the symptoms started.

If you don’t have any symptoms, you should inform anyone you’ve had sex with up to three months before you were diagnosed with the infection, or your most recent sexual partner if it was longer than three months.

So that’s it. At this moment we don’t need to run massive billboard campaigns alerting the nation about the all-powerful super G. But do take caution. Gonorrhoea is not a nice experience to go through. Do your best to avoid it.

Now you know what ‘super gonorrhoea, is you can move on with your life and hold the panic for the next Beyoncé album drop. Bye!