Christmas is known as the giving season, but there are some presents no one wants to receive.
Gonorrhea is one of them – and super-gonorrhoea even more so.
Brits are at higher risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) over the festive period than any other time of year.
Booze-fuelled end-of-year parties are the perfect breeding ground for new romantic connections, but they also tend to be where we forget our normal contraceptive habits.
Orders for STI treatments peak on January 3rd, according to UK based online doctor Zava UK.
And this year the stakes are even higher than usual, thanks to a new antibiotic-resistant strain of the clap.
Gonorrhoea is the second-most commonly diagnosed STI in the UK after chlamydia, but most cases can be easily treated with an antibiotic injection and tablet.
However a troubling report from Public Health England released earlier this year revealed a new strain of the infection that was resistant to traditional treatment. ‘Super-gonorrhoea’, as it has come to be known, is immune to three of the key drugs used to fight it: ciprofloxacin, cefixime and azithromycin.
Several countries, including the UK, Australia, France, Japan and Spain have recorded cases of gonorrhoea with high-level resistance to treatments including penicillin, sulphonamides, tetracycline, fluoroquinolones and macrolides.
Figures from 2017 show ciprofloxacin is now powerless in 36.4% of cases of gonorrhoea, a rise from 33.7% in 2016. Azithromycin was resistant in 9.2% of cases, compared to 4.7% the year before.
Antibiotic resistance is a serious concern, with 20th-century drugs quickly losing their effectiveness against increasingly powerful infections – there was a 35 percent increase in the number of antibiotic-resistant bloodstream infections in England between 2013 and 2017.
If current medicine doesn’t make some serious innovations, the crisis could kill 10 million people a year by 2050, according to Antibiotic Research UK.
A year ago, official reports indicated that STI rates are reaching record highs in Britain, and it’s not just gonorrhoea you should be worried about. Syphilis and chlamydia have also shown early signs of developing antibiotic resistance.
With the risk of contracting something increasing as Christmas approaches, it’s best to play it safe.
Zava UK’s Dr Clair Grainger said if you do end up having unprotected sex this silly season, testing is the first line of defence.
“The high spirits of party season combined with time away from our usual routines and drinking more alcohol can mean that we’re more likely to forget what normally comes naturally, such as using protection,” she told Daily Star Online.
“If you’ve had unprotected sex and think you may have caught something it’s important to get tested as soon as possible.”
Symptoms of gonorrhoea typically show up within two weeks of contracting the infection, but sometimes not for some months – and about one in 10 men and five in 10 women won’t experience any noticeable symptoms.
Women with gonorrhoea may experience:
- unusual vaginal discharge that can be thin or watery and green or yellow in colour
- pain when urinating
- pain or tenderness in the lower abdomen
- bleeding between period, heavier than normal periods and bleeding after sex
Men with gonorrhoea may experience
- discharge from the tip of the penis, which may be white, yellow or green
- pain when urinating
- inflammation of the foreskin
- pain or tenderness in the testicles