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Chlamydia

Chlamydia is the most commonly reported sexually transmitted infection in the United States. It is caused by the bacteria, Chlamydia trachomatis. The number of new Chlamydia cases each year in the US is estimated to be between 2 and 3 million. Chlamydia is transmitted through sexual contact with the penis, vagina, mouth, or anus of an infected partner.

In women, chlamydial infections cause cervicitis and urethritis and if untreated can progress to PID (pelvic inflammatory disease). PID can lead to ectopic pregnancy, infertility and chronic pelvic pain. Chlamydial infection during pregnancy is associated with adverse outcomes, including miscarriage, premature rupture of membranes, preterm labor, low birth weight, infant mortality, neonatal chlamydial infection and postpartum endometritis.

Chlamydial infection in men can cause urethritis and epididymitis and in rare instances may result in urethral strictures and Reiter syndrome.

In both men and women, chlamydial infection is usually asymptomatic. Women with symptoms may notice an abnormal vaginal discharge or burning with urination. Symptoms in men can include discharge from the penis, burning with urination or pain and swelling in the testicles. Chlamydia infection facilitates the transmission of HIV.

Sexually active young women are at highest risk for chlamydial infection. Chlamydia is prevalent in all racial and ethnic groups in the US, but highest in African-American and Hispanic populations. All sexually active women 24 years of age or younger, should be screened for Chlamydia yearly. Men who have sex with men should be screened at least annually.

Other risk factors for Chlamydia include a history of Chlamydia or other sexually transmitted infection, new or multiple sexual partners, inconsistent condom use and sex work.

Chlamydia is treated and cured with antibiotics for all partners. If a person has been diagnosed and treated for chlamydia, all sex partners within 60 days before the onset of symptoms or diagnosis should be contacted so they can be tested and treated. Partners should refrain from intercourse for 7 days after completion of antibiotics to prevent spreading the infection. All partners should complete recommended treatment.

Women who test positive for Chlamydia should have repeat testing 3-4 months after treatment to test for recurrence.

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is a bacterial sexually transmitted infection that affects both men and women. It is the second most common reportable disease in the United States. It is caused by the bacteria, Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It is estimated to affect 820,000 people annually in the United States. It is most common among young people 15-24 years of age. Gonorrhea is spread by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has gonorrhea.

Some men with gonorrhea may have no symptoms. However, men with symptoms may experience burning with urination, a white, yellow or green discharge from the penis, and painful or swollen testicles. Most women with gonorrhea do not have any symptoms. Symptoms in women can include: burning with urination, increased vaginal discharge and vaginal bleeding between periods.

In women, gonorrhea is a major cause of cervicitis and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID can lead to ectopic pregnancy, infertility, and chronic pelvic pain. In men, gonorrhea can cause epididymitis, sterility, and can rarely spread to the blood or joints. Untreated gonorrhea can increase the chance of transmitting HIV.

All sexually active young women should be screened annually for Gonorrhea if they are at risk. Women and men under the age of 25 are at highest risk for genital gonorrhea infection. Risk factors for gonorrhea include a history of previous gonorrhea infection, other sexually transmitted infections, new or multiple sexual partners, inconsistent condom use, sex work, and drug use. African-Americans and men who have sex with men have a higher prevalence of infection than the general population.

Gonorrhea is treated and cured with antibiotics for all sexual partners. If a person is diagnosed with gonorrhea, all partners within 60 days before the onset of symptoms or diagnosis should be contacted so they can be tested and treated. Partners should wait seven days after finishing all medications before having sex. All partners should complete recommended treatment. Gonorrhea resistance to antibiotics is increasing and this is concerning.

For more information about various STIs and prevention, please visit EIU HERC Sexual Health Office or call 217-581-7786.