Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the UK. and is very often symptomless in both men and women but can be treated very effectively with oral antibiotics.
The most common symptoms in men and women, when apparent, are a burning sensation or pain when urinating.
Chlamydia may produce a change in smell or colour of vaginal discharge or irregular or heavy periods in women, including pain and /or bleeding after sex. Left untreated, Chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility.
In men Chlamydia can cause pain in the testicles and discharge from the tip of the penis. If untreated, Chlamydia can cause infertility in men also.
Gonorrhoea is also a very common STI and may be symptomless. The most common symptoms for women are a burning sensation or pain when urinating and a vaginal discharge.
In men, they may also have a burning sensation or pain when urinating and, sometimes, a discharge from the tip of the penis.
If gonorrhoea is left untreated it can lead to serious long term health problems and infertility in both men and women.
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection by the herpes simplex or cold sore virus. It can be transmitted during vaginal, anal or oral sex resulting in painful blisters (cold sores) on the genitals.
If you have herpes in the genital area then the virus will normally shed in your urine and can be detected using PCR technology which is the test used by The Doctors Lab. If the virus is active and showing symptoms like small blisters, the test is able to give a positive result. If you have no symptoms and the virus is present but inactive the test will not give a positive result.
Where symptoms are present in the form of blisters or sores, it is better to have a symptomatic lesion test where you can swab the affected area and test for the presence of the herpes virus.
Bacterial vaginosis, also known as gardnerella vaginalis, mainly affects sexually active women although it can be found in non-sexually active women who disturb the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina due to overuse of feminine hygiene products and heavily scented soaps. The infection is often symptomless but may cause an unpleasant smelling, greyish discharge in women and urethritis in men (inflammation of the urethra). If left untreated the infection can cause serious health complications such as miscarriage or pelvic inflammatory disease.
Trichomonas vaginalis is caused by a tiny single-celled parasite that is transmitted during sexual activity. It’s more common in women than in men but up to half of all men and women have no symptoms but if any develop, it’s usually within a month of infection. Women may experience soreness and itching around the vagina and a fishy smelling, frothy yellow or watery vaginal discharge. Men may have a thin white discharge from the penis and pain while urinating. The complications of TV are rare but if left untreated it may make it easier for you to become infected with other STIs; including HIV. Also, pregnant women with this infection may have a premature birth or a baby with low birth weight.
Mycoplasma genitalium is caused by a small parasitic bacterium that can infect both men and women having unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex. Most people don’t experience any symptoms but the common ones for women are a burning sensation or pain when urinating, pain during sex and vaginal itching. The main symptom for men is urethritis (inflammation of the urethra), but may also experience pain or burning sensation during urination or discharge from the penis.
There has been a lot of press coverage about mycoplasma genitalium, often being referred to as the new sexually transmitted "superbug". Find out more on this short BBC video, click here.
Ureaplasma urealyticum is caused by a bacterium and commonly occurs in people who are sexually active. It often does not cause any symptoms and therefore most people don’t know that they’re infected. The most common symptom is urethritis (inflammation of the urethra). If left untreated it may cause long term health problems.