There’s A Gonorrhea Superbug Going Around—Here’s What You Should Know About It

According to a new report from the World Health Organization, three cases of a gonorrhea superbug have been discovered in Spain, France and Japan. While contracting the STD is never a pretty picture (and that’s an understatement), this superbug is even more horrifying and dangerous. What do you need to know? Read on to find out.

  1. The superbug doesn’t answer to antibiotics. This is the most important thing to know about the STI and it’s definitely the scariest. Antibiotics will not work on this new strain of the disease. As an expert in human reproduction at the World Health Organization told, “Gonorrhoea is a very smart bug. Every time you introduce a new type of antibiotic to treat it, this bug develops resistance to it.” Yikes!
  2. You can get gonorrhea from any kind of sex. You probably know that you can get a sexually transmitted disease from, well, having sex, but you can also contact this from butt sex or oral sex. The idea is that using protection such as a condom is your best bet against this, but since this is a superbug and drugs aren’t going to work, you want to be even more careful.
  3. Men can get it too. Don’t assume that you’re the only one in your sexual relationship at risk of getting gonorrhea, superbug or not—both men and women can be infected and can transmit the disease to partners of either sex.
  4. You can discover symptoms two weeks later… or not at all. You would think that you would know if you had an STD, but as it turns out, the symptoms might be completely invisible. While some people notice that something is up, it might not be until two weeks after they become infected. For others, they don’t notice any symptoms at all. What are the symptoms? Gonorrhea affects your rectum, throat, and genitals. For men, they tend to be anything from a sore throat to discharge or pain in the genital region or having to pee more often than usual. Women can experience similar symptoms along with stomach pains, abnormal periods, a fever, and painful sex.
  5. You might think you have a yeast or bladder infection instead. Since the symptoms of gonorrhea are basically the same or at least very similar, you might assume that you have a yeast or bladder infection and not have any idea what you’re actually suffering from.
  6. There are 78 million cases of gonorrhea annually. According to the World Health Organization, there are 78 million cases of this STD each year. This makes the idea of a superbug even more disturbing since this is already a very prevalent and contagious disease.
  7. Fifty countries are drug resistant. The WHO has researched which drugs work for gonorrhea and which don’t. They discovered that from 2009 to 2014, the best bet for this disease was drugs called ECS or extended-spectrum cephalosporins. Unfortunately, they found out that in 50 countries, these drugs don’t work. While new drugs are definitely being created, there are only three in the process, and the problem is that new drugs are always needed since the body will build up a tolerance to them and they won’t always work.
  8. There is the potential of the bug spreading into North America. Yes, only three cases have been discovered so far and those were in Japan, France, and Spain, but experts are talking about the superbug spreading into Canada and the US as well. In the US in particular, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports, there are 800,000 cases of gonorrhea on a yearly basis.
  9. You’ll suffer for longer with a superbug. While experts are saying that contracting the gonorrhea superbug isn’t fatal, it does mean that you’ll experience the symptoms for a longer period of time. As microbiologist Jason Tetro told Global News, “When you’re faced with an infection like this, it can end up in other parts of the body—the rectum, eyes, more and more in the throat, and in your joints. You no longer have a short-term infection. You’re dealing with a long-term condition that could end up causing pain and troubles with functioning normally.”
  10. There are some serious consequences. Wondering what could happen if you develop gonorrhea? You could end up infertile, could have an ectopic pregnancy (when the embryo is outside the uterus instead) or you could you have a higher chance of contracting HIV. And the truth is that even if you had a case of gonorrhea in the past, you can still get it again. Definitely worth taking the whole safe sex thing to heart.
  11. You absolutely need to get tested. You definitely need to have a conversation with your partner and both of you should get tested. What would you rather do: have a potentially awkward yet totally important and necessary talk, or wind up with a superbug of an STD? Exactly. This is one of those times when “better safe than sorry” applies.
Aya Tsintziras is a freelance lifestyle writer and editor from Toronto, Canada. In addition to writing about dating and relationships for Bolde, she also writes about movies, TV, and video games for ScreenRant and GameRant. She has a Political Science degree from the University of Toronto and a Masters of Journalism from Ryerson University. You can find her on Twitter @ayatsintziras and on Instagram @aya.tsintziras.