You’ve probably heard about sexually transmitted diseases, but did you know that gonorrhea and chlamydia are two of the most common? In fact, the CDC states there are more than 700,000 cases of gonorrhea and approximately 1.5 million cases of chlamydia in the United States per year. It is estimated that 1 in 20 sexually active young women ages 14-24 are currently infected with chlamydia.
Know the Signs
Chlamydia and gonorrhea can go unnoticed in both men and women, because many of those infected do not show any symptoms.
Women who do experience symptoms often compare them to a urinary tract infection, and may include:
• Painful urination or sexual intercourse
• Bleeding between periods
• Yellowish vaginal discharge
• Swollen and painful genitals
• Nausea and vomiting
• Stomach cramps or abdominal pain
Because more than half the women infected with gonorrhea or chlamydia don’t experience any symptoms, many do not seek help from a medical professional. This can be dangerous. If untreated, many curable STDs like gonorrhea and chlamydia can lead to other conditions, such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). This can cause serious harm to a woman’s reproductive system, making it difficult, or even impossible, for her to get pregnant. Some physicians believe that, if left untreated, gonorrhea can also increase the likelihood of certain types of cancer.
How to Prevent STDs
Gonorrhea and chlamydia are a lot like other contagious bacterial infections: easy to treat, but even easier to prevent. Even though gonorrhea is treatable through prescription antibiotics, practicing safe sex methods is always the best way to ensure your continued health.
The surest way to prevent acquiring an STD is always to abstain from sexual activity. However, if you choose to be sexually active, it’s important to know how to protect yourself:
• Use condoms consistently and correctly.
• Enter into a mutually monogamous, long-term relationship with someone who has been screened for STDs.