The UK Health Security Agency revealed last week the number of sexually transmitted disease (STI) diagnoses has risen by 24% compared with 2021, reaching nearly 392,500 cases by the end of 2022.
And the STI that has seen the greatest increase in diagnosis is gonorrhoea – which surged by a staggering 50% over 12 months from 54,661 to 82,592 cases.
With that in mind, Dr Babak Ashrafi, a general practitioner specialising in sexual health, answered some crucial questions about gonorrhoea – and shared some urgent warnings.
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The medic, who is working with Superdrug Online Doctor, first explained what gonorrhoea is.
He explained it's an infection caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae.
If left untreated, gonorrhoea can lead to serious health problems, particularly for women – just as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), a severe infection of the reproductive organs that can cause infertility and chronic pelvic pain.
Meanwhile, in men, untreated gonorrhoea can cause epididymitis – a painful inflammation of the testicles.
The STI is passed through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex.
But how can you avoid getting it?
"Like all STIs, practising safe sex is the best way to prevent getting gonorrhoea," said Dr Ashrafi.
"It is important to remember to always use a condom, do not share sex toys and ensure you get regularly tested for sexually transmitted diseases."
Symptoms you have it include discharge from the penis or vagina, pain or burning during urination, and in women, discomfort during sexual intercourse and abnormal vaginal bleeding between periods.
However, the medic warns some people with gonorrhoea may not experience any symptoms at all.
Im fact, one in 10 men and almost half of the women do not experience any symptoms.
Dr Ashrafi warns those who get treated must make sure they're getting things sorted properly.
He said: "If gonorrhoea is not treated correctly or if the infection is resistant to the prescribed antibiotics, it can persist in the body.
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"Treatment failure can be a result of some strains of gonorrhoea that have become resistant to antibiotics, incorrect diagnosis or because you've continued to have unprotected sex with an infected partner.
"If you have been treated for gonorrhoea but your symptoms persist or return, it's important to seek medical advice immediately.
"Your doctor may recommend additional testing to determine the cause of treatment failure and prescribe a different antibiotic regimen."
The news comes after it was reported last week that London in particular is a 'hotbed' for STIs at the moment.
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