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Sexual Health

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases, especially among people under 25. It is spread through vaginal intercourse, anal intercourse and oral sex. Chlamydia trachomatis is an infection that is spread “fluid to fluid”, meaning an infected person’s secretions need to come in contact with the mucous membranes or blood stream of another: this means you can contract Chlamydia without penetration. This disease can also be transmitted from mother to baby during childbirth. Since most people infected with Chlamydia have no symptoms, it is called the “Silent Disease.” The lack of symptoms of a Chlamydia infection not only causes a delay in treatment, but also makes it easier for the disease to spread. Fortunately, after it is detected through a standard STD test done at our center, there is treatment for Chlamydia with a simple, one-time dose of prescription antibiotics.

Chlamydia’s main dangers stem from this fact that it is such a “quiet” disease. Left untreated, Chlamydia can spread into the uterus and adversely affect a woman’s sexual health: in the uterus it can cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) and damage a woman’s reproductive organs, especially the fallopian tubes, which carry the egg from the ovaries to the uterus. This could cause infertility problems and/or ectopic pregnancies. When PID is caused by a Chlamydial infection, a woman may be more likely to experience only mild symptoms of the disease even when serious damage is being done to her reproductive organs. Because of its vague symptoms, the infection can go unrecognized by women and their healthcare providers. Women who do have symptoms of PID most commonly have lower abdominal pain. Other signs and symptoms include fever, unusual vaginal discharge that may have a foul odor, painful intercourse, painful urination, irregular menstrual bleeding, and pain in the right upper abdomen (rare).

If symptoms are present, the symptoms of Chlamydia in women are:

  • Vaginal discharge
  • Painful urination

The symptoms for Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) from Chlamydia or Gonorrhea are:

  • Low-grade fever
  • Non-menstrual bleeding
  • Painful intercourse
  • Lower abdominal pain

The symptoms of Chlamydia in men are:

  • Swollen or overly–sensitive testicles
  • Painful urination
  • Discharge from the penis
  • Rectal inflammation

In men, Chlamydia and Gonorrhea can spread to the epididymis, the tube that connects the testicle with the vas deferens. It can result in:

  • Blood in the semen
  • Discharge from the urethra (the opening at the end of the penis)
  • Discomfort in the lower abdomen or pelvis
  • Fever
  • Severe groin pain
  • Lump in the testicle
  • Pain during ejaculation
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Painful scrotal swelling (epididymis is enlarged)
  • Tender, swollen groin area on affected side
  • Testicle pain that worsens during a bowel movement

Testing for Chlamydia at LifeTalk Resource Center is carried out via a urine test, which consists of taking a sample of first stream urine.

There is evidence that a Chlamydial infection in a pregnant woman can lead to premature delivery. Babies born to infected mothers can also get Chlamydial infections in their eyes and respiratory tracts. The disease is a leading cause of early infant pneumonia and conjunctivitis (pink eye) in newborns. Transmission of Chlamydia cannot be prevented by washing the genitals, urinating, and/or douching after sex. Any unusual discharge, burning during urination or pain particularly in the groin area, should be a signal to stop all sexual activity and visit a doctor immediately.

It is important to know about Chlamydia and what the symptoms of Chlamydia are; LifeTalk offers education on the causes, symptoms, and treatment for Chlamydia. If you are sexually active, please call or schedule a cost-free appointment at LifeTalk.

CDC Chlamydia information can be found here.

 

 

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea, also known as the clap, is spread through oral sex, vaginal sex and anal sex. Gonorrhea is spread “fluid to fluid” meaning an infected person’s secretions need to come in contact with the mucous membranes or blood stream of another; as such, you can contract Gonorrhea without penetration.

The bacterium that causes the sexually transmitted disease Gonorrhea grows in the warm, moist areas of the reproductive tract, including the cervix (opening to the womb), uterus (womb) and fallopian tubes in women and in the urethra (urine canal) in women and men. The bacterium can also grow in the mouth, throat, eyes and anus. Treatment for Gonorrhea is done with an injection of prescription antibiotics and LifeTalk will refer you to a low cost clinic for treatment.

If Gonorrhea is left untreated, the disease can spread into the uterus and fallopian tubes and cause damage to a woman’s sexual health by causing Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) and chronic pelvic pain. PID can damage the fallopian tubes enough to cause infertility in women. It also can increase the risk of ectopic pregnancies—a life-threatening condition where a fertilized egg grows outside the uterus, usually in a fallopian tube. In men, gonorrhea can cause a painful condition called epididymitis and, in severe cases, can so negatively impact a man’s sexual health that it renders him sterile, thus preventing him from ever being able to father children.

Though many women do not exhibit any symptoms of Gonorrhea, some women experience:

  • Yellowish or yellow-green vaginal discharge
  • Bleeding between menstrual cycles
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Painful intercourse
  • Painful urination
  • The urge to urinate more than usual
  • Vomiting

Symptoms of Gonorrhea in Men include:

  • Burning when urinating
  • Discharge from the penis
  • Painful or swollen testicles

Testing for Gonorrhea at LifeTalk is carried out via a urine test. Pregnant women with Gonorrhea can pass the infection to their children during childbirth. This can cause blindness, joint infection or a life-threatening blood infection in the baby. Treatment for Gonorrhea as soon as it is detected in pregnant women will reduce the risk of these complications. An effective means to avoid contracting Gonorrhea is to exercise abstinence or to engage in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship with a partner that has tested negative for STDs. Transmission of Gonorrhea cannot be prevented by washing the skin of the genitals, urinating, and/or douching after sex. Any unusual discharge, sore, or rash on your skin, particularly in the groin area, should be a signal to stop all sexual activity and visit a doctor immediately.

Education about Gonorrhea and the symptoms of Gonorrhea can also be found at LifeTalk. The symptoms of Gonorrhea should never be taken lightly because of the effects it can have on your health. If you believe you are experiencing the early signs or symptoms of Gonorrhea or if you are sexually active and have never been tested, you should seek testing for sexually transmitted diseases at an Obria clinic. For further education about Gonorrhea or to get tested for Gonorrhea, please call or schedule an appointment.

CDC Gonorrhea Information can be found here.

 

 

HIV-AIDS

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus and is a very serious sexually transmitted disease that negatively impacts the body’s immune system, eventually giving rise to AIDS, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. HIV is most commonly spread through vaginal, anal and oral sex. HIV can also be spread by sharing needles with infected persons and, less commonly, the disease can be spread when blood infected with HIV contacts an open cut or wound of another person. HIV is spread “fluid to fluid” meaning an infected person’s secretions need to come in contact with the mucous membranes or blood stream of another.

Learning and understanding about HIV and AIDS and the symptoms of HIV can help reduce your chances of infection and aid in prevention. It is important to note that HIV is effectively treated with an ongoing course of drugs that the infected person must take regularly. This medication is very successful at slowing the spread of HIV throughout one’s body and people living with the disease can expect to live decades after contracting the virus given proper care. If left untreated, however, HIV will progress into AIDS, a life-threatening auto-immune disease that has no cure – as such, it is a disease which is avoided through prevention, not through treatment (as treatment will not cure you of HIV.) It is therefore of utmost importance to get regularly tested for STDs if you have an active sex life with multiple partners, as HIV must be caught as early as possible for care to be effective, as well as help prevent further spread of the disease. It is also incredibly important to note that you don’t “catch AIDS” from someone – you instead contract HIV from an infected person and then can eventually transition into AIDS if you left infected and untreated long enough.

HIV symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Skin rash
  • Weight loss

HIV testing is done via a blood test that measures the antibodies present in the blood.

Pregnant women with HIV or AIDS are at risk of passing HIV to their children either in the womb, during delivery or while breast-feeding. A March of Dimes study concluded that 25 percent of babies born to HIV/AIDS mothers who are not receiving any HIV/AIDS treatment are born infected with the HIV virus. When HIV/AIDS mothers are receiving the correct treatment however, the percentage of their babies born with HIV drops to less than two percent. HIV prevention falls in line with STD prevention – proper use of condoms reduces risk of transmission during sex with infected partners to less than 1%, abstinence is completely effective and relations with HIV negative partners is also completely effective.

Please note, however, that transmission of HIV cannot be prevented by washing the genitals, urinating or douching after sex. Any unusual discharge, sore, or rash, particularly in the groin area, should be a signal to stop all sexual activity and visit a doctor immediately. It is important to submit to HIV testing at the first manifestation of symptoms. HIV and AIDS are life threatening, so the symptoms of HIV should never be ignored – educate yourself on prevention and on the facts about the virus and resultant syndrome. HIV is an STD, and as such, STD prevention techniques remain applicable, but it is important to note that HIV is incurable and as such should be afforded a tremendous amount of attention and understanding. If you believe you might have HIV, please call or schedule an appointment with an LifeTalk for an initial screening and referrals to a low-cost clinic for a full panel of STD tests. Remember that birth control is not an effective means of preventing an infection – HIV is not stopped by any sort of pill, injection, patch or IUD.

CDC HIV Information can be found here.