This is neither glamorous nor remotely sexy, but what it is is very real, and we need to be taking it seriously: Oral sex is causing the spread of a dangerous strain of gonorrhea which is notoriously hard to treat because of its resistance to antibiotics.
The BBC reports the World Health Organization has warned that gonorrhea—an STI that can infect the genitals, rectum, and throat, and could ultimately cause infertility—is now in many cases harder to treat, and in some rarer instances, impossible.
The WHO claims cases of gonorrhea in the throat are most worrying, and that they're being rapidly spread by oral sex. Dr. Teodora Wi explained that the resistance has come about by existing bacteria in the throat mixing with antibiotics used to treat non-sexually transmitted throat infections.
"When you use antibiotics to treat infections like a normal sore throat, this mixes with the Neisseria species in your throat and this results in resistance," she said. Then, when gonorrhoea bacteria is thrown into the mix, it can lead to "super-gonorrhea"—the type that's much harder to treat.
We first heard of "super gonorrhea" on a widespread scale after an announcement from the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV back in 2015, which declared an outbreak of the bug among the popular university city of Leeds. Young students having unprotected sex were thought to be contributing to its spread, and a worldwide decline in condom use is only broadening it.
Take note: Symptoms of gonorrhoea include a green/yellow painful discharge from the vagina, penis or anus, pain when going to the toilet, tummy pain, and a general feeling of being unwell.
Gonorrhea in women can cause an increased risk of early labor, miscarriage, and irregular bleeding, as well as risk of infertility and ectopic pregnancy.
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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com/uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.