Chlamydia and gonorrhea are typically spread through unprotected sexual intercourse. This means that you can get these diseases by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with an infected person. You can reduce the risk of getting these diseases by using condoms.
The CDC recommends that all sexually active women who are 25 years and younger should be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia every year. Women who are 25 years and older with risk factors – such as new or multiple sex partners or a sex partner who has an STD – should also be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia every year.
The CDC recommends that all sexually active gay and bisexual men should be tested at least once a year for chlamydia and gonorrhea.
Signs and Symptoms
Not everyone has symptoms when infected, which is the main reason why it is so common. When symptomatic, chlamydia and gonorrhea present quite similarly:
Men often experience a burning sensation during urinating and discharge from the penis. In more severe cases, it may also cause pain in the testicles (epididymitis).
Women often experience a burning sensation during urination and discharge from the vagina. In more serious cases, it can even cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), which may cause abdominal pain and fevers.
The additional risk for women is that their tubes might become scarred from the inflammation of an untreated infection, which may result in infertility and increase the risk of an ectopic pregnancy (in which the embryo is not implanted in the uterus)–which can be dangerous.
Patients who get infected rectally might experience rectal pain, rectal discharge, and bleeding.
If you have a history of unprotected sexual intercourse and experience the symptoms above, your doctor will likely empirically (= without prior testing) treat you with antibiotics. However, in some cases – especially when no symptoms are present – STD testing may be ordered. This usually involves collecting a urine sample. Alternatively, a sample of cells using a swab from the penis if you’re a man and the vagina if you’re a woman can be obtained.
Your doctor may test you for other STDs, like trichomonas, herpes, syphilis, and more.
For gonorrhea, the treatment typically consists of a single dose of an antibiotic which is either taken orally or injected intramuscularly. For chlamydia, you may either be prescribed a single dose of a different antibiotic, or in more severe cases, a 7-14 day course.
It is strongly recommended to avoid having sex for a week after completion of the antibiotics.
Furthermore, it is important to inform your partner(s) of your diagnosis and make sure they get treated as well to avoid reinfection and further spread of the disease.
How to Get Help
If you or your partner experience any of the symptoms above or are tested positive for an STD, do not delay in getting treatment. QuickMD can help you and electronically send the appropriate antibiotics directly to your pharmacy via phone, video or chat – from the privacy of your home.