Bacterial STIs are caused by bacteria being transmitted between two people during sexual activity. Bacterial STIs can be cured with a course of antibiotics, as long as you get tested by your doctor and take the full course of medication. Someone with a bacterial STI should avoid any sexual contact until they are fully cured so as not to pass the infection on, and any sexual partners should get tested for the infection.
There are three infections in this category: Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, and Syphilis
Chlamydia is one of the most common STIs in the world today Chlamydia is caused by Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria. It is most common among people aged between 15 and 24. It is usually transmitted through sexual activity with an infected individual, especially through unprotected sex. Chlamydia can easily go unnoticed, and therefore undiagnosed. This is because about 50% of men don’t show any symptoms, and almost 70% of women don’t show symptoms.
However, there are a number of symptoms related to chlamydia when they do show.
Symptoms in Men
Symptoms in Women
|Pain or burning while urinating||Pain or burning while urinating|
|Discharge from penis or rectum||Discharge from vagina or rectum|
|Swelling or tenderness in testicles||Bleeding outside of menstruation|
|Itchiness||Pain during sexual intercourse|
Chlamydia can also infect the eyes or throat, if those areas come in contact with an infected area.
A person can get tested for chlamydia by a urine sample, or by getting a swab from the infected area, for example the cervix of a woman. Chlamydia is treated with a course of antibiotics administered either orally or by injection. Someone being treated for chlamydia will nearly always be treated for gonorrhea at the same time as the two infections often occur together.
Chlamydia is a curable infection. It is cured by a course of antibiotics, usually taken orally. It is important to take the full course of the antibiotics, even if the symptoms subside before you are finished. It is also important for all sexual partners to get tested and treated for the disease.
If chlamydia is left untreated, there can be a number of side effects. The infection can spread to the reproductive organs of women in a disease called Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). This can sometimes damage the fallopian tubes and can cause ectopic pregnancies, infertility or pain in the pelvic area. In men, untreated chlamydia can cause swelling in the prostate.
Untreated chlamydia can also be hazardous when a woman is trying to get pregnant. The infection can cause miscarriage or early birth. The infection can also be passed on to the child during labour if the mother has it, and this can cause a number of infections in the child.
Ask your health care provider. Generally, it will be safe to have sex one week after both you and your partner have completed the entire duration of antibiotic treatments, provided all symptoms have disappeared. It is possible to get chlamydia again immediately after your infection has been cured.
Remember, your recent sexual partner(s) have to be tested, and if they are also infected, you will need to wait until they have finished treatment and been completely cured before having sex.
It is always a good idea to use condoms to prevent STIs, but they are particularly important after you or a partner has been treated for an STI.
As well as chlamydia, gonorrhoea is one of the most common STIs in the world today Gonorrhoea is caused by a bacterium called Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Gonorrhoea is most common among the ages of 15 to 24. Gonorrhoea is most often transmitted through sexual activity with someone already infected with the disease, especially through unprotected sex. Symptoms do not always occur, but when they do they usually occur within 10 days of contracting the disease, although they can take up to 30 days to show up.
Some of the most common symptoms include
Symptoms in Men
Symptoms in Women
|Discharge from the penis||Vaginal discharge|
|Pain or burning while urinating||Abdominal or pelvic pain|
|Pain or swelling in testicles||Bleeding outside of menstruation|
|Burning throat or swollen glands (due to oral sex)||Spotting after sexual intercourse|
|Pain or burning while urinating|
|Swelling of the vulva|
|Burning throat or swollen glands (due to oral sex)|
A person can get tested for gonorrhoea by a urine sample, or by getting a swab from the infected area, for example the cervix of a woman.
Gonorrhoea is a curable infection. It is cured by a course of antibiotics, usually taken orally. It is important to take the full course of the antibiotics, even if the symptoms subside before you are finished. It is also important for all sexual partners to get tested and treated for the disease.
If untreated, gonorrhoea can cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease in women. This can sometimes damage the fallopian tubes and can cause ectopic pregnancies, infertility or pain in the pelvic area. Men with gonorrhoea can contract a condition in the testicles called epididymitis, which can be very painful and can lead to infertility if left untreated.
It is possible for gonorrhoea to spread to the blood and to the joints around the body. This is a rare but very serious side effect, and can even be fatal. People suffering from gonorrhoea are also more susceptible to contracting HIV/AIDS.
Gonorrhoea is especially dangerous in a woman who is pregnant. It can cause premature delivery of the baby, and the infection can be passed on to the child from the mother during delivery. This can cause the baby to become blind, or it can cause a life-threatening blood disease.
You should avoid sex until you have taken all the antibiotics and your partner has been tested and treated if necessary. If you do end up having sex while the antibiotics are still working it is really important to use a condom or else it is likely the medicine you took won’t work.
If you get antibiotic pills, make sure you take them all even if you start to feel better – otherwise the infection might not go away completely.
If you test positive for gonorrhoea, get tested again 3 months later to make sure you don’t have it again. Condoms will decrease your chances of getting gonorrhoea during vaginal sex or during oral sex with a male, but it’s important for both partners to get tested because it’s easy to get re-infected if one partner still has it.
Syphilis is contracted by coming into direct contact with a “syphilis sore” during sexual activity, especially unprotected sex Syphilis is caused by a bacterium called Treponema pallidum. Syphilis can occasionally be passed to a person through kissing, but it is rare. These sores can be located on the genitalia, the anus or the lips and mouth. Symptoms of syphilis are divided into different stages: primary, secondary, latent and late syphilis. There are a huge number of symptoms related to syphilis, all of which are easily mistaken for other illnesses. For this reason syphilis is also known as “the great imitator”. The painless sores you contract, for example, can be mistaken for a small cut or even an ingrown hair. A non-itchy rash can develop on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, all over the body, are in just a few places on the body during the secondary stage of the infection. Ocular syphilis affects the eye, and can cause blindness if left untreated.
Eventually, it can damage internal organs, and can be fatal.
It is a well-known urban legend that syphilis can be spread by toilet seats, door handles, baths, swimming pools etc, but this is completely untrue!
Syphilis testing is performed through a blood test, or by a swabbing from an infected sore.
It is a curable disease, and is cured with the right antibiotics. While the antibiotics will cure the disease, they are unable to undo any damage that was already caused by syphilis. Remember, a person can reacquire syphilis infection, so their partner(s) should also be tested.
You should not have sex again until you have been treated, your symptoms have disappeared, your tests for syphilis are negative and your health care provider informs you that you are no longer infectious. Your partner(s) should also be tested.
The Great Imitator