For the last three years STD rates have increased dramatically nationwide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports a dramatic spike in the number of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis cases with indefinite understanding of why these diseases are spreading rapidly. The most concerning of the three is gonorrhea. Why? Because it has a mutated strain that has become resistant to the drugs currently used to treat it. Gonorrhea is a disease that has seen an 18.5% increase in its number of cases since 2015 and its proliferation isn’t slowing down. Here’s the problem with the big G: There are no symptoms. You can have the disease and not know— that means getting tested regularly is a must. CASSIUS spoke with Jenelle Marie Pierce, founder of TheSTDProject and spokesperson for PositiveSingles to shed some light on the issue at hand.
Men Vs. Women
“Initially, gonorrhea isn’t very different for men or women—it often has little to no symptoms,” says Pierce. “However, it’s when gonorrhea is undetected and untreated that things become different for people who have vaginas versus folks with penises, ” She explains. “In women, untreated gonorrhea can turn into pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which is a fancy way of saying that the infection travels farther into the reproductive system and can cause long-term damage like, irreversible scaring, chronic pain, and even infertility. For men, this STI can cause a painful condition in the tubes connected to the testicles, and infertility.”
There are none. “That is actually true for many STIs/STDs, there are usually no symptoms, and gonorrhea is no different. However, sometimes people will experience abnormal discharge or discomfort. Women might experience a painful or burning sensation when peeing, increased vaginal discharge, or bleeding between periods. For men, symptoms could include a discharge from the penis, a burning sensation when peeing, or painful and swollen testicles,” says Pierce. Even when these symptoms are not present, being tested for STIs after having unprotected sex is necessary to ensure a negative status.
Protection and Prevention
The spread of gonorrhea, and other STDs, is pretty straight forward and can be prevented easily. “Gonorrhea is contracted via unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex with an infected partner,”says Pierce. “Since it is transmitted though fluids (i.e., saliva, semen, vaginal secretions), the best way to reduce your risk is to use barrier methods (condoms and/or dams) for all sexual activities. Condoms can greatly reduce your risk of contracting all sexually transmitted infections and they’re the only contraceptive method that also protects against unplanned pregnancy. In order to get the most protection, it’s important to use condoms consistently and correctly.”
“The CDC currently recommends a dual treatment of two antibiotics – one given orally and the other administered as a shot,” says Pierce. “Despite the rise in antibiotic resistant gonorrhea, this treatment is still deemed highly effective and the disease is still considered curable. The idea behind the double dose of antibiotics presumes that if your strain of gonorrhea is resistant to one of the antibiotics, it will be cured by the other.” While being treated, it is extremely important to take the full dosage of antibiotics prescribed and to wait seven days until the treatment has been completed before resuming any sexual activity with a partner. Re-infection could occur if partnered sex is practiced before the treatments are complete.
Glamazon Tyomi is CASSIUS’ resident sexpert. Follow her at @GlamazonTyomi.