Beware super-gonorrhoea: the gift nobody wants at Christmas


As the Christmas party season comes upon us, too much alcohol and too few inhibitions may lead to an unwanted gift in the form of a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

Young people are particularly at risk of both being given and regifting this particular festive favourite, with figures from Public Health England showing that in 2017 an STI was diagnosed in a young person once every four minutes, with those aged between 15 and 24 disproportionately affected.

Today’s climate – where more liberal attitudes prevail and a willing sexual partner is available with a swipe right on a dating app – provides a perfect breeding ground for STIs at any time of the year.

And while most of us have heard of things like herpes and chlamydia there are new, mutating and re-emerging STIs that everyone needs to know about to ensure that no surprise presents get unwrapped on Christmas day.

Gonorrhoea was a disease that many sexual health experts thought had gone away. But in recent years the number of cases has skyrocketed: in 2017 there were just over 44,000 cases, an increase of 22 per cent compared to the previous year.

Gonorrhoea is a nasty infection – it is often symptomless but it can cause an unpleasant, watery, green discharge from the penis or vagina, a pain or burning sensation when passing urine among both men and women, as well as bleeding between periods and after sex for women.

But what really worries health experts is the drug-resistant form of the disease, a growing threat around the world. In April the UK reported the world’s “worst ever” case of “super-gonorrhoea” picked up by a British man on holiday in Bali.

In this case the the two front-line treatments proved ineffective and the patient ended up having to be admitted to hospital and given a three-day infusion of antibiotics.