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Sexually Transmitted Infections: what are gonorrhea and chlamydia

I discuss Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs, or Sexually Transmitted Diseases – STDs) with all sexually active patients and I routinely recommend screening for STIs. STIs are infections that you can get from having sex that can  be caused by bacteria or viruses. Two of the most common STIs are gonorrhea and chlamydia.


Sexually transmitted infections can be caused during sex that can that can affect sex organs, tubes carrying urine out of the body, throat and anus.


What are the symptoms of Gonorrhea and Chlamydia?

Often there are no symptoms, which is why it is so important to be tested regularly, especially if you are sexually active.

In women, there may be vaginal discharge, irregular periods, abdominal pain, pain with sex, pain with urination, irritation of the vagina or vulva, etc.

Men may experience pain with urination, discharge from the penis, pain or swelling in the testicles, burning or itching, etc.

Those who engage in anal sex may see symptoms of rectal pain, discharge, and bleeding.


How is Gonorrrhea and Chlamydia Tested

The tests are usually simple and painless, just a urine test or a vaginal/anal/oral swab, depending on the infections.


How is Gonorrrhea and Chlamydia Treated

Treatment is with antibiotics that can be given orally or with a shot. Notifying the person or people you have had sex with so they can be tested is of the utmost importance to prevent the spread of STIs.


What are the Complications of Gonorrhea and Chlamydia

Complications are rare, but untreated chlamydia or gonorrhea can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease that can cause pain and infertility. It can also lead to inflammation of joints and eye infections.


How to Prevent STIs

You can reduce your chance of getting an STI by using condoms, but that is not 100%. Chemical or hormonal birth control does not protect you from STIs.



Learn more from Dr. Mom

Cervical Cancer – what to know and how to prevent it
What to expect from your prenatal visit
How does pregnancy affect the abdominal muscles and pelvic floor
Do I really need folic acid during pregnancy?
Difficulty conceiving? What are the common causes of infertility



Marranos J (2018) Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of chlamydia trachomatis infections. In: UpToDate, Bloom A (Ed), UpToDate, Waltham, MA.

Thanes K (2018) Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of Neisseria gonorrhoea infection in adults and adolescents. In: UpToDate, Bloom A (Ed), UpToDate, Waltham, MA.

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