young couple having sexual intercourse Image credit: iStock/Jacob Ammentorp Lund

Oral sex is leading to the production of a dangerous strain of gonorrhoea, which is being spread by a decline in condom use. The World Health Organization (WHO) have said that gonorrhoea is become resistant to antibiotics, making it increasingly dangerous for those contracting it, suggesting that condoms should be used for oral sex as well as intercourse.

Around 78 million people are diagnosed with the sexually transmitted infection (STI) globally every year and if left untreated, it can have serious health implications. Not treating gonorrhoea, or failing to find a treatment that works, can result in prostate, pelvis and testicle pain. Women with the STI can suffer from damage to their reproductive organs that makes it difficult to conceive, as well as result in a high risk of ectopic pregnancy.

Extreme cases of gonorrhoea can also cause health problems in other parts of the body. It can result in inflammation of the spinal cord and brain, which can be severe.

According to WHO, the new dangerous strain of gonorrhoea is due to unprotected oral sex, as the STI can develop in the throat. The infection can then mix with other bacteria, changing it and making it resistant to antibiotics. Having oral sex will then spread the gonorrhoea to genitals.

As our throats usually come into contact with antibiotics due to orally-administered tablets, the STI developing in this area also means it is becoming resistant to the drugs. This is particularly worrying as there are very few new forms of antibiotics on the horizon.

WHO analysed data from a total of 77 countries, finding that gonorrhoea's resistance to antibiotics was widespread. In fact, three cases of completely untreatable gonorrhoea have been found in France, Japan and Spain.

Following these findings, WHO is calling for new drug development to focus on gonorrhoea and other forms of STI that are becoming increasingly difficult to treat. It has stated that vaccines would be the best course of action so as to protect people from STIs rather than treat them when they are diagnosed.

Until vaccines are available, it is important to remain protected during all types of sex to avoid contracting or spreading STIs. You should also undergo regular testing to ensure you are treated for any infections as early as possible.