A sexually transmitted infection (STI) is an infection passed between people during sexual intercourse annd general sexual contact. You can be tested for STIs at either a sexual health clinic, GUM clinic or at your GP’s surgery. You can protect yourself from STIs by using barrier methods of contraception such as condoms. People don’t always suffer from symptoms and can have a sexually transmitted infection for a long time before they realise they are infected.
Chlamydia is a bacterial infection caused by the Chlamydia Trachomatis bacteria. It’s one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) found in the UK. It is spread from person to person through unprotected sex and is particularly prevalent in sexually active teenagers and young adults. The infection affects both sexes, but women are more at risk of infection than men. In total there were 200,288 chlamydia diagnoses in 2015 which is approximately half of all STi’s that were reported in that year alone (FPA).
The most common symptoms are:
Most symptoms will appear very shortly after transmission, however in some cases Chlamydia can remain without symptoms for years. This is why it is very important to get tested if there is a suspicion that you could have caught the infection i.e. if your condom splits. You should also make sure you are tested if you or your partner:
The infection is diagnosed a urine test. The tests can be done by your GP, local genitourinary clinic (GUM) or sexual health clinic. You can also get a private test done where you post a urine sample to the company. Results are usually back within 7-10 days.
If it turns out you have Chlamydia, it is very important your previous sexual partners (last 6 months) are also tested. GUM clinics can help with this and offer a service where you do not have to contact partners directly. A representative at the clinic can do so (FIND YOUR NEAREST ONE HERE).
Untreated Chlamydia infection can lead to some very serious health consequences, for example a type of reactive arthritis or even infertility. It can also cause:
Yes. Uncomplicated chlamydia infection can be treated in 95% of all patients with a short antibiotic course. There are 2 main antibiotic options in the UK
Azithromycin (macrolide) 3-day course: 1g given as a single dose on the 1st day, followed by 500mg taken daily for two days
Doxycycline (tetracycline) 7-day course: 100mg twice daily for 7 days
Both are effective treatments that work in different ways to achieve the same goal. The main deciding factor should be suitability. The shorter course is always preferred; however, some patients will not be able to take macrolide antibiotics and thus Doxycycline will be more suitable.
It is important to abstain from sexual intercourse for at least one week after finishing antibiotic treatment. This ensures you do not pass the infection on, or worse, catch it again within that time.
What is Herpes?
Herpes is a viral infection that is transferred via physical contact. There are two main types: herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1); and herpes simplex type 2 (HSV-2). HSV-1 is commonly linked with oral blisters and cold sores and HSV-2 is the most common cause of genital herpes.
How does the infection spread?
Herpes is spread through physical contact with the sores and blisters it can cause. Although genital herpes is classed as an STI (sexually transmitted infection), it can be passed on via other routes. One of the main ways it can be transmitted is via direct oral contact (kissing), but sharing a glass or eating utensils with someone who has it can also cause it to spread.
Genital herpes is passed on through sexual contact. The infection is not usually contagious when in remission, however it is when the patient is having a flare up (active).
Who does it affect?
Herpes can affect people of all ages. Babies can even inherit it at childbirth.
As of yet there is no successful cure for herpes. Once infected it remains in the body for life. The virus goes through cycles or being active (flare up) and remission where it exhibits no effects.
Flare ups can occur when:
The amount of flare ups a patient experiences will reduce as they get older, however those experiencing flare ups know how uncomfortable the burning sensation can get.
What are the symptoms?
8/10 infected people will not experience any symptoms. Those that do can experience:
Symptoms can last up to 20 days but often subside before this time.
Symptoms for the first outbreak are usually more intense, subsequent outbreaks are usually milder as your body produces antibodies for the virus. Patients that have experienced a flare up will recognise "warning signs" that another outbreak is coming.These signs include a tingling, burning or itching sensation around the genital area or sometimes down the thigh. Following this blisters may appear that are red and painful and soon burst, leaving open sores.
The objective of oral treatment is to cause the virus to go into remission faster and reduce the time symptoms are experienced for. The active ingredients in herpes treatments (antiviral medicines) work by altering the reproduction process of the virus. To grow and multiply, the herpes virus requires the production of an enzyme, called DNA polymerase and this is where the medicines attack. Stopping the production of this enzyme stops the further multiplication of the virus and stops the infection from spreading. The body’s own immune system is then able to deal with the virus and cause it to go into remission.
If you are worried that you have just caught the virus, it is advisable to see your doctor, or go to your local GUM or sexual health clinic. They can diagnose the condition after examining your symptoms, and start a prescription for the required treatment. If you have taken herpes treatment before, you can renew your prescription through our online consultation service here at SimplyMeds Online.