It was among the first diseases to fall to antibiotics in the 1940s, but the bacteria readily acquire antibiotic resistance genes and keep them, even when the antibiotics they resist are no longer used. N. gonorrhoeae is now resistant to penicillin, and the subsequent families of antibiotics used to treat it.
Now only a couple of third-generation cephalosporin antibiotics are left. But resistance to these has been creeping up, and last year N. gonorrhoeae resistant enough to be dubbed a "superbug" was reported in Japan.
Most people clear the infection faster than they change sex partners, so don't spread the bug to someone new. But people who change partners faster, such as sex workers and promiscuous communities of men who have sex with men, are likely to pass on the infection. Targeting such groups for treatment caused gonorrhoea infection rates to drop steeply in industrialised countries since the 1970s – but now they are climbing again.
Proving once again:
That abstinence and marital fidelity within a heterosexual relationship are the safest ways to manage one's sex life.