Sexually transmitted infections tend to be something that we don’t like to talk about. Despite how common they are, there is still a stigma attached to STIs and a lot of shame and embarrassment around testing positive. Perhaps you’re worried about how to tell your partner, or how previous partners will react to the news. Whatever happens, you’ve done the right thing in getting tested and being honest about it.
Gonorrhea and chlamydia are two common sexually transmitted infections. They are both caused by bacteria and treated with the same type of antibiotics. In many cases, they don’t cause symptoms, especially with chlamydia, so it’s possible to have an STI without knowing. This is how they’re so easily spread, because there are no warning signs.
Both STIs are caused by bacteria and can cause similar symptoms. Gonorrhea is caused by the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria and Chlamydia trachomatis is the bacteria which causes chlamydia. Chlamydia is more common and is less likely to produce symptoms, especially in women.
Symptoms of chlamydia include:
Pain during urination
Lower abdominal or pelvic pain (in women)
Pain or bleeding during sex (in women)
Bleeding between periods
Burning or itching of the urethra (in men)
Pain in the testicles (in men)
70% of women and 50% of men won’t experience any symptoms.
Symptoms of gonorrhea include:
An unusual discharge which might be yellow or green
Pain or a burning sensation while you pee
Bleeding between periods or after sex
Lower abdominal pain (in women)
Inflamed foreskin (in men)
Tender or sore testicles (in men)
10% of men and 50% of women don’t show any symptoms of the infection.
For both chlamydia and gonorrhea symptoms will usually arise within 2 weeks of having transmitted the infection. It is possible for symptoms not to show up for months though. If you’re at all worried that you might have an STI then always get tested.
Don’t wait until you show symptoms, as you might never get any. If you’ve had unprotected sex then it’s important to get tested to make sure that you don’t have an STI. Especially because infections like chlamydia and gonorrhea can be symptomless, you run the risk of infecting your partner, or any future partner.
You can visit a sexual health clinic to get tested where they will ask you questions about your sexual history before examining you. The tests for chlamydia and gonorrhea involve giving a urine sample and possibly a swab test from the vagina. If you prefer, you can order a test kit online to do at home.
If you test positive for one, or think that you have symptoms of one, then it’s advisable to get tested for all common STIs. It is possible to have multiple sexually transmitted infections.
Both chlamydia and gonorrhea are treated with an antibiotic called azithromycin. You’ll usually be given a 1000mg dose in four tablets to be taken all at once. The infection/s will take a week to fully clear and you should avoid having sex during this time and until your partner has been tested and treated too. Using condoms will help to protect you from either transmitting or spreading an STI.
In the short term, chlamydia doesn’t cause any harm but if it's left untreated it can lead to complications. In women it can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility. Men might experience an infection of the testicles or prostate gland.
Gonorrhea usually won't lead to any lasting complications if you catch it early but if you've had it more than once this increases your risk of problems. Gonorrhea can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease which can be linked to infertility and ectopic pregnancy. If you are pregnant, gonorrhea can trigger a miscarriage or premature labour. It also carries the risk of your baby being born with conjunctivitis. Men might get an infection in the testicles or prostate gland but have less of a risk of becoming infertile.
Healthline> Chlamydia vs. Gonorrhea: https://www.healthline.com/health/sexually-transmitted-diseases/chlamydia-vs-gonorrhea
NHS> Gonorrhea: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/gonorrhoea