As one of the most common Sexually Transmitted Infections, Chlamydia is easily transmitted and particularly common in young people. This is a 'silent' infection – people commonly have no noticeable symptoms.
Chlamydia is mainly passed from one person to another through unprotected sex with an infected partner. Symptoms in women include an unusual vaginal discharge, pain when passing urine, pain or bleeding during sex, bleeding between periods or heavier periods
and lower abdominal pain.
Symptoms in men include a white/cloudy or watery discharge from the tip of the penis, pain or a burning sensation when passing urine and testicular pain or swelling.
Without treatment, the infection can spread to other parts of the body causing serious long-term health problems, including infertility. Fortunately, Chlamydia is simple to treat with antibiotics, either a single dose or a course lasting up to two weeks.
Gonorrhoea can infect the genitals, urethra, rectum and throat. More rarely, it can affect blood, skin, joints and eyes. Symptoms may be noticed 1 to 14 days after infection, many months later, or not until the infection spreads to other parts of your body.
Symptoms in women include an unusual vaginal discharge, which may be thin or watery, yellow or green, pain when passing urine, bleeding between periods or heavier periods and low abdominal or pelvic tenderness.
Symptoms in men include an unusual discharge from the tip of the penis, which may be white, yellow or green, pain when urinating and irritation, pain or tenderness in the testicles and inflammation of the foreskin, although this is less common.
Untreated gonorrhoea can cause pelvic inflammatory disease in women. This can cause fever, pain and can lead to infertility, ectopic pregnancy (where the baby begins to grow
outside the womb in the fallopian tube) or giving birth to the baby early. In men, if left untreated, it can lead to inflammation inside the testicles and prostate gland and may affect fertility.
Early treatment of gonorrhoea is simple and effective and involves a single dose of antibiotics.
The symptoms of syphilis can be mild and therefore difficult to recognise. They include sores (primary syphilis), painless rashes, flat, warty-looking growths on the vulva in women and anus in both men and women, a flu-like illness
, tiredness and loss of appetite with swollen glands, white patches in the mouth and patchy hair loss (secondary syphilis). It can take up to three months to show after sex with an infected person.
Treatment is simple during the primary and secondary stages and involves either a single antibiotic injection or two-week course of antibiotic tablets. ‘Late Syphilis', which develops around 10 years after infection, can affect the heart, brain, nervous system, liver, bones, eyes and joints
, and is potentially fatal. Unprotected sex should be avoided until the infection has cleared up.
Non-Specific Urethritis (NSU)
NSU is an inflammation of the urethra (the tube where urine comes out) that affects men exclusively. NSU has three main symptoms: a white or cloudy discharge from the tip of the penis (most obvious in the morning), pain, irritation or a burning sensation when urinating, wanting to pass urine often and itching or irritation at the end of the urethra.
Fortunately, NSU is easily treated with antibiotics, although damage to the urethra takes time to heal. All sex should be avoided until the infection has cleared up.
How we can help
Hopefully, you understand the importance of practising safer sex and what to look out for if things do go wrong. However, if you still have any questions or are worried about your sexual health, your Pharmacist will be happy to discuss these with you and offer you friendly, confidential, expert.
If you still have any questions or are worried about your sexual health, you can find your local pharmacy on our Pharmacy Locator page and speak to your local Pharmacist who will be happy to offer you friendly, confidential, expert advice.