Oral sex produces a dangerous form of gonorrhea resistant to antibiotic, the World Health Organization has said.
Gonorrhea Contracted Through Oral Sex
Oral sex is common in the United States, where a nationwide survey revealed that about two-thirds of Americans between 15 and 24 years old have had this intimate contact.
The United Nations agency said that treating a person who had contracted gonorrhea is now harder and sometimes impossible as the sexually transmitted infection now develops resistance to antibiotics.
Teodora Wi, from the WHO, said that there have been three cases in Spain, France and Japan where the infection was totally untreatable.
Gonorrhea — which is caused by the bacteria neisseria gonorrhea that targets the cells of mucus membranes — can infect the rectum, genitals and the throat but health officials are particularly concerned about infection of the throat.
Wi explained that antibiotics may lead to bacteria in the back of the throat developing resistance, and these pathogens include relatives of gonorrhea. The gonorrhea bacteria brought into this environment through oral sex may result in super-gonorrhea.
"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," Wi said. "In the US, resistance [to an antibiotic] came from men having sex with men because of pharyngeal infection."
Experts said that people with gonorrhea in the throat are unlikely to be aware of it and are therefore more likely to transmit this via oral sex. Although use of condom can reduce the risk of transmission, many people would not want to use it.
Symptoms And Prevention
The main symptom of oral gonorrhea is a sore throat but most of those infected may show little or no symptoms at all. The symptoms can occur between 7 and 21 days after oral contact with an infected partner's genitals or anal area.
Untreated gonorrhea can lead to unwanted health problems which include pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) that can cause infertility and long-term pelvic/abdominal pain. In men, the condition can cause one to be sterile.
"It is becoming harder to treat some gonorrhea, as drug-resistant strains of gonorrhea are increasing. If your symptoms continue for more than a few days after receiving treatment, you should return to a health care provider to be checked again," the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised.
The best way to lower a person's chances of getting STDs like gonorrhea is to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner. Correctly using latex condoms during sex can also reduce risks of getting sexually transmitted infections.