STIs – or sexually transmitted infections – can be passed on via unprotected sex. These are the symptoms of gonorrhoea – commonly misspelt gonorrhea – chlamydia and syphilis to look out for.
By Lauren Clark
[S]TIs – the common abbreviation for sexually transmitted infections – can be passed on via unprotected sex.
Common STIs include chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhoea, and they are on the rise, according to recent figures.
In 2016 there were 420,000 diagnoses of sexually transmitted infections in England, including a 12 per cent increase nationwide in cases of syphilis.
Rates of gonorrhoea are also soaring particularly in London, which earlier this year was revealed to be the city with the highest STI levels in the UK.
Failing to get a diagnosis and treatment for an STI can cause pelvic inflammatory disease in women, and infertility in both men and women.
But do you know the symptoms of gonorrhoea, chlamydia and syphilis? The NHS has revealed the signs to look out for.
They usually develop within two weeks of an infection, but can sometimes take months to appear. The signs vary between men and women.
– an unusual vaginal discharge, which may be thin or watery and green or yellow in colour
– pain or a burning sensation when passing urine
– pain or tenderness in the lower abdominal area (this is less common)
– bleeding between periods, heavier periods and bleeding after sex (this is less common)
– an unusual discharge from the tip of the penis, which may be white, yellow or green
– pain or a burning sensation when urinating
– inflammation (swelling) of the foreskin
– pain or tenderness in the testicles (this is rare)
The first signs usually develop within two to three weeks of infection, and can be split into early symptoms and later symptoms.
– the main symptom is a small, painless sore or ulcer called a chancre that you might not notice
– the sore will typically be on the penis, vagina, or around the anus, although they can sometimes appear in the mouth or on the lips, fingers or buttocks
– most people only have one sore, but some people have several
– you may also have swollen glands in your neck, groin or armpits
– a blotchy red rash that can appear anywhere on the body, but often develops on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet
– small skin growths (similar to genital warts) – on women these often appear on the vulva and for both men and women they may appear around the anus
– white patches in the mouth
– flu-like symptoms, such as tiredness, headaches, joint pains and a high temperature (fever)
– swollen glands
– occasionally, patchy hair loss
This is one of the most common STIs in the UK, and, worryingly, it often doesn’t trigger any symptoms. If signs do appear, however, they may include the following.
– pain when urinating
– unusual discharge from the vagina, penis or rectum (back passage)
– in women, pain in the tummy, bleeding during or after sex, and bleeding between periods
– in men, pain and swelling in the testicles
If you think you may have an STI, you should visit your GP or local sexual health clinic. Find out more information here.
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