Drug-resistant gonorrhea blamed on oral sex
Published: Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 21:11
Sex therapists Amy and Charles Miron participated in an “Ask the Sexperts” discussion on Thursday night about safe sex sponsored by Kesher, a reform Jewish registered student organization. It was also sponsored by Hillel and Student Wellness and Health Promotion. One of these topics was how gonorrhea and the Human Papillomavirus are affecting both male and female students.
Japanese doctors Magnus Unemo and Makoto Ohnishi found a new strain of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea, called H401, last year. Amy Miron says this antibiotic resistance should be a cause of concern for students.
“It’s scary when you understand how the field of sexually transmitted infections has grown over the years,” she says. “It’s a battle because as you increase the antibiotics they learn how to survive.”
Amy Miron says students should be more concerned about having oral sex because it is one of the main reasons HPV and gonorrhea viruses are mutating and becoming resistant to antibiotics.
“I think what’s happening as far as oral sex is that it has become so common and people don’t use latex, polyurethane or isopropylene condoms because they think it’s safe,” she says. “It’s the HPV virus whether it’s your throat, your vagina or your rectum.”
Senior Aryeh Kuller says in a college setting, fewer people judge students for having oral sex because the way people look at sex has evolved over time.
“Oral sex was like a huge deal in ninth grade, but it’s not as much of a big deal now,” Kuller says. “Any sex is sex, but at the same time the magnitude of what people consider sex acts has definitely changed.”
Senior Leah Diamant, the vice president of Kesher, says she does not think students view sex any differently now than they have in the past.
“They know that everything they do is sex,” she says. “I don’t think people care.”
She says says the talk was an informative way for women to learn about how to take preventative measures so they do not spread sexually transmitted diseases.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection, “gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease caused by a bacterium. Gonorrhea can grow easily in the warm, moist areas of the reproductive tract, including the cervix, uterus and fallopian tubes in women and in the urethra in both men and women. The bacterium can also grow in a person’s mouth, throat, eyes and anus.” People get gonorrhea by having sex anally, vaginally or orally with someone who has the disease. The CDC estimates that more than 700,000 people in the United States get new gonorrhea infections each year.
Symptoms include a burning sensation during urination and pus discharge from the genitals. However, the disease is oftentimes asymptomatic. When gonorrhea is left untreated it can lead to chronic pelvic pain in women and increases the risk of HIV transmission.
Amy Miron says there are over 30 strains of the HPV virus, but only four strains cause disease. She says Gardasil, a series of three vaccines, protects the body from strains six and 11, which cause warts and strains 16 and 18, which cause cervical cancer.
She recommends both men and women get the vaccine.
“If you intend to be sexually active with any human being other than yourself, I would get the Gardasil vaccine,” Amy Miron says.
Symptoms of HPV in women, according to the CDC, are warts on the vulva, vagina and cervix while men experience warts on the penis, scrotum or groin. She says these warts should not be confused with herpes blisters that are painful and fluid filled.
She says that many times women do not feel the symptoms of HPV because they do not examine their genitals every day.
“How many women go around daily with a mirror looking at their genitals?” Amy Miron says. “Men’s genitals are out front—they handle them when they urinate every day. Women don’t usually explore their genitals, though we recommend that you look at them.”
Kuller says it is important for men to get the HPV vaccine so that the virus does not spread.
“If there’s something you can do to prevent yourself from getting sick from in any way, I think you should go ahead and do it,” Kuller says.