Taking your health and general well-being into your own hands is a crucial part of life. Apart from eating well, exercising, and mental wellness, your sexual health matters a lot. Failure to keep tabs on your sexual and reproductive health can lead to fatal illnesses like sexually transmitted diseases/illnesses. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are illnesses or infections transmitted from one person to another by sexual contact. Viruses, bacteria, and parasites cause infections. Gonorrhea and chlamydia are some of the most common STDs in the country today.
At All Women’s Care, we take it upon us to advise and treat STDs and all reproductive-related diseases. Our doctors are well trained and handle our patients with care. Get in touch with us today if you are in Los Angeles to learn more about how we can help you.
Ways of Contracting STDs
There are three kinds of sexually transmitted diseases. They are viral, bacterial, and parasites. Bacterial STDs include gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis, while viral STDs include genital herpes, HIV/AIDS, HPV/genital warts, and hepatitis b.
Chlamydia is caused by a bacteria called chlamydia trachomatis. Trichomoniasis is an uncommon infection caused by a parasite that the microbes that cause sexually transmitted infections are found in semen, saliva, vaginal discharge, and blood. These germs can be spread from one person to another through oral sex, anal sex, and vaginal sex. Infections found in saliva can be transmitted through kissing.
Genital herpes and warts are easily communicable since they can be spread through skin contact. Hepatitis b, on the other hand, can be contracted by sharing personal items like toothbrushes, razors, and needles that have been used by an infected person.
How You Can Contract or Spread Gonorrhea and Chlamydia
Being sexually active risks exposing you to sexually transmitted infections. At times you might not be sexually active, but you find yourself in harm’s way when it comes to STDs. Below are some factors that increase your risk of contracting and spreading STDs:
Having vaginal, oral, or anal sex with an infected person who is not using a condom increases your risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Oral sex has minimal risks, but some infections can still be transmitted through semen and vaginal discharge like chlamydia of the throat.
Having Multiple Sex Partners
Having sex with one person already puts you at risk so having multiple sex partners means higher risks. The risks are even high if you are having unprotected sex with them.
History of STDs
Once you have contracted one sexually transmitted disease, you become more prone to other STIs. Sexually transmitted weakens our immune system making it easier for other infections to take hold.
Dealing with sexual assault or rape is difficult and challenging. When you are visiting a counselor or a therapist, it is advisable to go for a check-up. This is advised since you do not know the medical history of the assaulter.
Drug and Substance Abuse
Drug and substance abuse impairs your judgment. You are more likely to participate in reckless and risky behaviors when you are under the influence. These risky behaviors involve having unprotected sex.
Use of Erectile Dysfunction Drugs
Men who take prescriptions for erectile dysfunction, such as Viagra, are at risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases than those who do not. If you under medication, you need to practice safe sex.
Symptoms of Chlamydia and Gonorrhea
One of the downsides of STDs is that their symptoms are mild, and most times, they go unnoticeable. This leads to these infections advancing since they are not being treated, leading to more harmful effects. Most infected women do not get any symptoms when they have chlamydia. Some develop symptoms after a week or even months of being infected. Chlamydia and gonorrhea have the following symptoms in women:
- Increase in vaginal discharge
- Pain in the lower stomach, especially during sex
- Pain, bleeding, or discharge in the anus
- Redness or inflammation of the eye is a symptom of chlamydia
- Discomfort and pain during sex are one of the most overlooked symptoms of sexually transmitted infections. Mostly, this pain is mild, making people ignore it more. Pain during sex can be as a result of pelvic Inflammatory disease (PID). PID is a sign of advanced STD, especially The pain is usually in the lower stomach.
- STDs cause pain and irritation during urination. Women with these infections also tend to urinate more frequently than normal. There are some cases where blood in urine was reported.
- Sores and rashes around the vagina, buttocks, and anus is an indication of an STD.
- Itchiness or irritation sensation around or in the vagina is a common symptom of STD. Women suffer itchiness in the vaginal area due to several reasons like an allergy to latex condoms, scabies or pubic lice, yeast infection, and genital warts. However, itchiness can also be as a result of an STD.
- Smelly and green or yellow discharge is a common symptom. As the woman goes around the cycle, she experiences different sorts of discharges. White or thick discharges indicate yeast infection, but green and yellow indicate a high possibility of an STD.
- Abnormal bleeding is not common, but bleeding between periods is a symptom of a sexually transmitted disease.
A study by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that women of 15 to 24 years are more prone to suffering the effects of gonorrhea and chlamydia due to unsafe sex. Since the infections go unnoticed, they lead to infertility, ectopic pregnancies, and cervical cancer. The CD records about 24,000 infertility cases every ear caused by sexually transmitted diseases. According to the CDC, 1 in every 5 Americans suffer from genital herpes, but about 90 percent do not know their condition. With over 357 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections annually, the need for safe sex is high that most people know. Safe sex equals fewer cases of infections, which minimizes the risk of cervical cancer and infertility.
CDC also encourages women to go for regular productive health check-ups. These check-ups will eliminate or minimize the number of sexually transmitted diseases that go untreated. One check-up after every three months is recommended. Several clinics in America offer free check-ups as a campaign against the transmission of STDs.
Prevention of Chlamydia and Gonorrhea
Unlike other diseases that are hard to prevent, sexually transmitted infections can be prevented. Being observant of your reproductive health can prevent you from contracting or transmitting diseases. Below are some measures you can take to prevent contracting and transmitting STDs:
Doctors recommend a Pap smear test once every three to five years. Women are also advised to go for reproductive health check-up once every three months. If you are sexually active, you need to request a test every time you visit your gynecologists.
Tests should be done for you and your partner at the same time. In case one or both of you are found positive on any STD, it is important to follow your doctor’s treatment to the latter. If you are put under medication, both of you need to go for rechecking before engaging in sex again.
To help prevent the spread and contraction of STDs protection is always recommended. Protection ranges from female and male condoms for vaginal and anal sex and dental dams for oral sex. Condoms are offered for free in many clinics and at a small fee in pharmaceuticals. Dental dams also come at a small fee in many hospitals and chemists. Birth control pills and medication helps prevent pregnancies but can never prevent transmitting and contracting STDs.
It is important to note that although latex condoms are crucial in preventing STDs, they are not 100 percent safe. Condoms do not eliminate the risk of contracting or spreading sexual infections. Latex condoms containing nonoxynol-9 were believed to kill the organisms causing STDs, but doctors disagree. Nonoxynol-9 causes irritation of the cervix and vagina hence increasing the risk of an STD.
If you and your partner are not comfortable using protection, honesty, and loyalty come in handy. Get tested from time and stick to having sex with one partner. You need to communicate with your doctor when having unprotected sex. The doctor will help in giving you and your partner regular check-ups.
Other means of preventing the spread of STDs include:
- Avoid sharing underclothing and towels.
- Clean up before and after sex
- Avoid alcohol and substance use.
Abstaining from sex is the most effective way of avoiding transmission and contracting any sexual infection. This means you will not have any kind of sex; anal, vaginal, and oral.
There are vaccines available for sexually transmitted diseases like hepatitis B, hepatitis A, and HPV. CDC has approved and recommends getting a vaccination for girls/women and boys/men between ages 11 and 26. Most hepatitis B vaccination during birth, while hepatitis A is done at one year. Getting vaccinated makes one immune to these infections. Vaccination at an older age is recommended to those who did not get vaccinated during birth or one year. However, this vaccination doesn't work for gonorrhea and chlamydia.
Use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) legalized the use of emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (Truvada) combined to create a drug called PrEP. PrEP reduces the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections. PrEP is especially recommended to sexually active people.
PrEP is prescribed to people who do not have incurable STDs like HIV.
After every three months, you will be tested for HIV and be tested for kidney functionality before prescription and after every six months. PrEP is taken every day for the prescribed days without missing even a single dose. PrEP lowers the risk of contracting STIs like HIV, gonorrhea, and chlamydia by 90 percent. Combining PrEp with other measures lowers the risk even more.
It is not easy to be diagnosed with any sexually transmitted illness, even if it is mild. There are certain measures you should put in place and change a few things in your life. These are:
- Start treatment given by your doctor immediately.
- If you go for testing without your partner and you are found positive, inform your partner immediately so they can also go for testing and treatment.
- After a positive diagnosis, abstain from sexual intercourse until your doctor clears you. Make regular check-ups a routine.
Effects of Chlamydia and Gonorrhea
Sexually transmitted diseases have several consequences, including health effects and emotional effects. Several STDs have mild or unnoticeable symptoms, so the advance in the body, causing more damage than those detected early. Lack of awareness of STDs makes people more vulnerable since some women may ignore some mild symptoms, thinking it’s just a normal bacterial infection that will go away after a few days. Below are some effects of STDs:
Sexually transmitted infections have deadly microbes that lead to cancer. Doctors consider sexually acquired papillomavirus to cause almost all cervical cancers, penis, vagina, and vulva. About 80 percent of cases of cervical cancer are associated with human papillomavirus. Liver cancer, a common kind of cancer, is closely associated with hepatitis B. Other cancers caused by sexually transmitted infections include; leukemia-lymphoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, and nasopharyngeal.
Reproductive Health Complications
Sexually transmitted disease threatens a woman’s ability to conceive. STDs like chlamydia and gonorrhea lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). STDs cause fallopian tubes hence resulting in infertility. Infertility is a common cause of STDs, but these infections are also responsible for several ectopic pregnancies. Ectopic situations result from partial blockage of fallopian tubes, which is as a result of PIC.
Sexually transmitted infections are associated with acute complications in pregnant ladies and infants. Several STD pathogens can be transmitted from mother to infant through the placenta, during breastfeeding, and during passage at birth.
Advancement in the health sector has made it possible for mothers who have tested positive for STDs to give birth to healthy children, but there is still a risk. STDs are associated with stillbirth or congenital sexually transmitted infections in infants. Since infants’ immune system is weak and underdeveloped, a sexually transmitted infection that is mild to grownups is fatal to infants. STDs cause damage to the eyes, central nervous system, and auditory system of infants.
High mortality rates associated with STDs have been reported to kids and mildly to grownups. Several cases are as a result of cancers; cervical, liver, and leukemia. HIV is one of the leading sexually transmitted diseases in mortality rates. Both HIV and herpes are incurable hence being the top STDs leading to death.
Other deaths associated with STDs are as a result of suicide. Some patients lose their esteem after finding out they have STDs and decide to take their lives instead of taking medications.
Other complications include:
- Pelvic pain
- Eye inflammation
- Heart diseases
- Joint inflammation
Diagnosis for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea
People go for a diagnosis for different reasons, such as sex history, signs and symptoms, and want to keep tabs on reproductive health. If you go to the hospital to determine whether you have any sexually transmitted disease(s), the doctor will conduct different tests on you. These tests involve lab testing. Tests for STDs include:
Blood tests — Blood tests are credible for determining some STDs like HIV and syphilis.
Urine Samples — Urine samples are used to test almost all sexually transmitted infections.
Fluid samples — Open genital sores and rashes require testing fluid samples to come up with a suitable treatment plan.
Screening — Screening is done to those without any symptoms but has been exposed to environments putting them at risk for STDs.
Recommended Screening for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea
Screening is not always a routine during checkups, but at times, exceptions are made. A patient can also request screening if they have been exposed to a risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection. Below are people who should consider screening for an STD:
Anyone between the ages of 13 to 64 is advised to consider screening, especially for HIV. Every year, HIV cases are being recorded, and screening can help reduce these cases. Reducing HIV cases is almost equivalent to reducing chlamydia and gonorrhea cases since HIV infection makes the body more prone to these infections.
All pregnant who visit the hospital during their pregnancy are screened for various STDs like HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis. Screening for gonorrhea and hepatitis C is done once during the pregnancy. Screening reduces the risks of birth complications like ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth, and death of the infant.
People Born Between 1945 and 1965
Health experts say that people between 1945 and 1965 have a high risk of contracting hepatitis C and other STIs. This is because there is a high probability that people born during this period did not receive vaccination for the infection. Hepatitis C has no symptoms until it is in its advanced stages, so screening eliminates the risk of having it.
Sexually Active Women below 25 Years
Experts advise all women below 25 years to get screened for chlamydia and gonorrhea, especially chlamydia. Screening for chlamydia requires a sample of vaginal fluid or urine, which you can collect yourself and take to the clinic. Better off, a doctor can take your sample to make the results more accurate. If you test positive for chlamydia, it is essential to repeat another test three months later after being under medication. Chlamydia has a high rate of reinfection due to undertreatment.
Women of Ages 21 and Above
Pap smear tests screens for cervical irregularities like inflammation, cancer, and precancerous risks. Women are advised to take a pap smear screening once every three years to monitor their reproductive health.
People with HIV
People who are living with HIV have a high risk of contracting other STDs. HIV weakens the immune system making the body more vulnerable to other infections. Immediate screening of herpes, chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea is advised. Women with HIV have a great risk of developing cervical cancer. For this reason, a pap smear is recommended within one year of contracting HIV and after six months.
People with New Partners
Anytime you get a new partner, experts advise you to go for screening with your partner before engaging in sex. A person who has been infected recently might test negative. Therefore, regular check-ups are recommended to anyone dating.
General Treatment for STDs
Sexually transmitted diseases caused by parasites and bacteria are treatable, but viral infections are incurable. However, viral infections can be managed by medications. It is important for a pregnant lady who has been infected to start mediation immediately to avoid infecting the baby. Below are some treatment solutions for STDs:
A single dose of antibiotics can cure several sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, and syphilis. Gonorrhea and chlamydia often appear together, so they are usually treated together. Once you are given a dose, you need to follow it to the latter to avoid under treatment. Undertreatment leads to reinfection. After medication, you are advised to be rested again after three months.
If you test positive for HIV or herpes, you are put under antiviral drugs. Following herpes, prescription gives you fewer recurrences. Antivirus drugs can keep these infections in check. Although you will still have the virus, you will be healthy and lengthen your lifespan.
Find a Women's Health Clinic Near Me
Reproductive health is a broad topic for women that requires sensitivity. Women often ignore discomfort, especially during sex or itchiness around the vaginal region, thinking it is a mere bacterial infection. Most STDs are asymptomatic, making it hard to notice. Gonorrhea and chlamydia can cause fatal damages and effects like cancer, stillbirth, infertility, or even death. By visiting us at All Women’s Care, you are assured of quality treatment, expert information on STDs, and confidentiality. Contact our doctors at 213-250-9461 if you are in the Los Angeles area.