Dr Helen Lawal | Blog | What is Super-Gonorrhoea and Can I Catch It?
What is Super-Gonorrhoea and Can I Catch It?

What is Super-Gonorrhoea and Can I Catch It?

Super-Gonorrhoea: a little red bug with an orange cape flying from sex life to sex life spreading the love? Not quite so heroic. Super-gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and is much the same as "normal" gonorrhoea. "Super" is often used by the media to describe infections that are no longer effectively treated by certain antibiotics.

Super-gonorrhoea hit the headlines in 2016 but actually we've known about it for a while and this is part of the reason that it is treated with 2 antibiotics: an injection into the buttock called ceftriaxone and some tablets called azithromycin. There have been some cases where the gonorrhoea has not responded to the antibiotics given - this is called antibiotic resistance.

Gonorrhoea is spread by having vaginal or anal sex without a condom. It's important to remember that even oral sex can spread STIs. Condoms (and oral dams) are the only way to help stop the spread of infection. Some common symptoms include:

  • vaginal discharge in 50% of cases in women
  • up to 1 in 4 women will experience abdominal pain
  • bleeding in-between periods or after sex
  • discharge from the penis- can be thick and green
  • pain when passing urine
  • no symptoms at all

Yes that's right, gonorrhoea can also have no obvious symptoms at all, especially infections in the bottom or throat. This is why it's important to get checked out at the clinic even if you feel fine and don't have any of the above symptoms.

If the latter is true and you are currently symptom free, the tests are very straight forward. For women it is a self-taken swab from the outside and inside of the vagina and for heterosexual men it's as simple as peeing in a pot. For gay men additional throat and rectal swabs are required. These are all relatively pain free. These tests are available from sexual health clinics, your GP, online, pharmacists and often Colleges or Universities provide them too. The tests are sent off to a lab where they are processed over a few days and often negative results are texted direct to your mobile.

The key thing to remember is that if you have any of symptoms- especially discharge from the vagina or penis- you really need to get yourself to a sexual health clinic where you will be seen by a sexual health doctor or nurse.There is a special test that can often be done if you have discharge which allows us to check for gonorrhoea whilst you wait and therefore receive treatment immediately if it is spotted under the microscope.

So, gonorrhoea is red under the microscope but, no flashy cape and not so super if you catch it. Wear a condom to protect yourself and if you're worried, don't panic; it's easy to get tested and current treatments are effective.