Gonorrhea destroys the female body’s normal defenses against invaders sort of like a bad ex-boyfriend — through manipulation and coercion. The bacteria forces the female’s body to break important connections between cells, (like those friends he made you drop), and this all results in an eventual breakdown. In the opening of the uterus, at least.

A new study, published online in Plos Pathogens, uncovered the strategy that N. gonorrhoeae, the bacteria that causes gonorrhea, use to penetrate the lining of the entrance of the female reproductive tract. Normally, infected cells inside of the uterus are shed without breaking connections between cells in the lining, which helps to keep it intact. However, N. gonorrhoeae breaks these connections, which makes it easier for the bacteria to gain a foothold, Medical Xpress reported. This feat is achieved through a specific protein known as non-muscle myosin II, which gonorrhea activates.

Read: Cases Of Antibiotic-Resistant Gonorrhea Hit Record High, And Experts Fear We'll Soon Be Out Of STD Treatment

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gonorrhea is an STI that affects both men and women and can infect the genitals, rectum, and throat. It’s considered to be very common and can be treated with a course of antibiotics. However, when left untreated, gonorrhea may cause pelvic inflammatory disease in women, which can go on to cause the formation of scar tissue which blocks the fallopian tubes, cause ectopic pregnancies, long-term pelvic pain, and even infertility.

While gonorrhea is treatable, there are certain strains of the infection that have developed a resistance to many of the drugs used to fight them. What’s more, according to recent reports, the prevalence of these strains is on the rise. As of yet, some strains of gonorrhea have developed a resistance to antibiotics such as penicillin, tetracycline, and fluoroquinolones, and are beginning to show an emerging resistance to azithromycin, the current go-to treatment option, CBS News reported. There are no recorded cases in the U.S. of a strain of gonorrhea that is resistant to all available treatments yet, but this may change.

Source: Wang LC, yu Q, Edwards V, et al. Neisseria gonorrhoeae infects the human endocervix by activating non-muscle myosin II-mediated epithelial exfoliation. Plos Pathogens. 2017

See Also:

Antibiotic Resistance Leads To 'Super Gonorrhea'; Treatment May Soon Be Ineffective

Experimental Gonorrhea Treatment May Cure Antibiotic-Resistant Disease