Chlamydia and Gonorrhea are the two most common Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s) in the United States and often can co-occur (e.g. someone is infected with both). Caused by bacteria, they are both curable, but if left undetected and untreated can lead to a variety of health problems from painful discharge up to and including infertility (in both men and women). While often talked about together as they have some similar symptoms, and as they both are common and bacteria-based (and can be detected through the same urine or swab samples), Chlamydia and Gonorrhea are in fact two separate concerns that both deserve discussion.
Chlamydia is transmitted through unprotected oral, vaginal, or anal sex. In men it can it can cause a burning sensation when urinating, a white-ish dischage, and sometimes one or both testicles may painfully swell-up. In women it can cause vaginal discharge and a painful burning sensation when urinating as well. When infecting the rectum (although less common), the symptoms can include rectal pain, discharge, and bleeding. Without treatment Chlamydia can cause women to suffer pelvic inflammatory disease, which causes pain and can result in infertility. Men may not have any apparent long-term health affects, but sometimes sterility can result, and even if not showing symptoms a male can still spread Chlamydia to other partners.
Also known as, “The Clap,” Gonorrhea can be acquired through (as with Chlamydia) unprotected oral, vaginal, or anal sex. In men it can cause a burning sensation when urinating, discharge of various yellow-green colors from the penis, and while less common, can cause swollen and painful testicles. Women also may feel a, “Burn,” when they pee, have discharge, and even vaginal bleeding between periods. A rectal infection in men or women can result in itching, soreness, bleeding from the anus, and general pain. If not treated gonorrhea can lead to (in women) Fallopian scarring and pelvic inflammatory disease, both of which can result in infertility. Men can have their testicles develop complications that also can result in sterility.
An Additional Concern
As has been mentioned, Chlamydia and Gonorrhea are curable, which may cause someone to go, “So what’s the big deal if I get one of these? I mean, I can just get it treated, right?” This is dangerous thinking as both of these STI’s can lower the body’s immunity and make other incurable STI’s have an easier time infecting a person, and even if right now these can be cured, there is a growing concern with antibiotic-resistant (or completely antibiotic-immune) cases of chlamydia and especially gonorrhea that could theoretically lead to a point where even these once-curable STI’s no longer can be treated. Therefore, as with the prevention of any STI, the use of condoms and other safer-sex items is always important. As have been mentioned before, here at Williams and Associates we have free safer-sex supplies should they be needed, so never forget to protect yourself and your partner.
General facts and prevention tips:
CDC article about antibiotic-resistant Gonorrhea posing a challenge: