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Gonorrhea Becoming Harder to Treat

According to the World Health Organization, nearly 78 million men and women are infected with gonorrhea each year. While antibiotics have been used as an effective treatment for decades, the bacteria that causes the infection has evolved to become increasingly resistant to commonly used drugs. Sexually active individuals may be at risk of developing untreatable infections, leaving them susceptible to further complications.

The recommended treatment for gonorrhea has changed several times over the years as the bacteria becomes resistant to medications. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gonorrhea has developed resistance to penicillin, tetracycline and fluoroquinolones. Currently, the CDC recommends the use of an antibiotic class called cephalosporins.

If left untreated, gonorrhea can lead to serious complications such as:

  • Formation of scar tissue that blocks fallopian tubes
  • Ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the womb)
  • Infertility
  • Long-term pelvic/abdominal pain

The World Health Organization’s director of antimicrobial resistance, Marc Sprenger, recognizes that there is an urgent need for new antibiotics as well as a vaccine to prevent infection altogether. In early 2017 the WHO named gonorrhea as one of 11 types of bacteria that pose the greatest threat to human health across the globe.

 What can you do to protect yourself? “Multi-drug resistant bacteria is one of the major health concerns of our time.” says Dr. Keith Falter, a Women’s Health CT medical director. “Antibiotic resistant gonorrhea is one such example. This infection can be prevented by practicing safer sex behaviors. We urge patients to carefully select intimate partners and to always use condoms to prevent infections such as this.”

If you have questions regarding your sexual health and would like to learn more about protecting yourself from STIs, do not hesitate to contact your Women’s Health CT provider.

Learn more about gonorrhea and other common STIs here.


Chavez, Nicole. "This STD is becoming 'smarter' and harder to treat." CNN. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. July 8, 2017.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016, July 15). Antibiotic-Resistant Gonorrhea. Retrieved July 14, 2017, from https://www.cdc.gov/std/gonorrhea/arg/default.htm
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016, May 19). Gonorrhea. Retrieved July 14, 2017, from https://www.cdc.gov/std/gonorrhea/stdfact-gonorrhea.htm

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