Womens Health

Getting Tested for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that Chlamydia and Gonorrhea are the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and that their highest rates of incidence occur among teenagers. The good news is that both Chlamydia and Gonorrhea are completely curable - provided they are detected. The smart and safest thing to do is to get tested.

About Chlamydia and Gonorrhea

Chlamydial is an STD caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. Since the Chlamydial infection often has no external symptoms, one can be infected and not know it. Those who do get symptoms may experience abnormal discharge from the vagina or penis, and feel burning while urinating. These early symptoms can appear within one to three weeks after being infected. However, since Chlamydia symptoms may be mild or non-existent, one might not seek care and get treated.

Gonorrhea is an STD caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhea. These bacteria can infect the mouth, the rectum, and the genital tract. In women, the first place of infection is the cervix. Gonorrhea is more aggressive than Chlamydia and usually manifests in pus and pain for men, while for woman there are usually no symptoms. Just like Chlamydia, one can be infected with Gonorrhea for months without being aware of it.

Getting Tested for Chlamydia

You can get tested for Chlamydia by a swab test or a urine test. In the former, a fluid sample from the cervix or penis is tested for the bacteria. In the latter, urine gets tested. Women should note that Pap tests are not used to detect Chlamydia.

Getting Tested for Gonorrhea

There are three types of tests for Gonorrhea: A swab test takes a sample from the suspected part of the body (rectum, throat, penis, cervix, or urethra), which is sent to a lab to be tested. Gonorrhea in the cervix or urethra can also be tested by a urine sample. Finally, in a procedure called a "Gram Stain," a sample from the cervix or urethra is placed under a microscope and stained with a dye, allowing the doctor to see the bacteria.

Who Should Get Tested?

Anyone who is sexually active should get tested annually for both Chlamydia and Gonorrhea. This is especially true if you have more than one sexual partner, if you have sex with someone who has other sex partners, if you have a new sex partner, if you do not use condoms, and if you experience any STD symptoms.

What Happens if You Don't Get Tested?

Untested, undetected and untreated Chlamydia and Gonorrhea may have serious health repercussions.

For women, untested Chlamydia can lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID); infertility; ectopic or tubal pregnancy; chronic pelvic pain; cystitis; HIV/AIDS. In men, untested and untreated Chlamydia can cause a scarred and infected urethra, prostatitis, epididymitis (infected ducts around the testicles) and ultimately infertility.

Gonorrhea that is not tested and not treated can cause the following problems in women: PID, infertility, pregnancy problems, pelvic pain, infections of the joints, increased risk of contracting and spreading HIV. In men untreated Gonorrhea can give rise to epididymitis, infected sores in the surrounding scrotum area, and infertility.

If detected, both Chlamydia and Gonorrhea can successfully be treated with antibiotics.

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