Student Union Campaigns: 12 Days of Christmas…Staying Safe Day 3: STIs, Chlamydia & Syphilis
Published on 03.12.15
This is the third day for the Student Union’s 12 Days of Christmas…Staying Safe Campaign. Today I want to talk about two specific Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) that are on the rise in Herefordshire: Chlamydia and Syphilis. You have probably all heard of Chlamydia. This STI is one of the most commonly known In the
This is the third day for the Student Union’s 12 Days of Christmas…Staying Safe Campaign. Today I want to talk about two specific Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) that are on the rise in Herefordshire: Chlamydia and Syphilis.
You have probably all heard of Chlamydia. This STI is one of the most commonly known In the UK; it’s thought that 1 in 10 sexually active young people have Chlamydia. It is easy to treat and to cure, although if it is left untreated it can cause many painful complications and serious health problems, such as infertility.
It is important to know what causes Chlamydia, to be able to understand why it’s so easy to pass on from one person to another. The infection happens when a bacterium called Chlamydia Trachomatis, which is found in the semen and vaginal fluids of the men and women who have the infection, is passed from one person to another through sexual contact. Anyone who is sexually active can catch it and pass it on.
Chlamydia is most commonly spread through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex, and also through sharing sex toys. You will be happy to know that you cannot catch Chlamydia from kissing, hugging, sharing baths or towels, swimming pools, toilet seats and sharing cups/plates/cutlery. So you can still safely enjoy these things without fear of catching Chlamydia. It may scare you to know that about 70% of infected women and 50% of men will not have any signs or symptoms. But if you do have any signs or symptoms, they will only start to show up 1-3 weeks after coming in contact with someone infected with Chlamydia.
The symptoms that you should look out for are: (for women)
• Bleeding between periods and/or heavier periods
• Bleeding after sex
• Pain and/or bleeding when having sex
• Lower abdominal pain
• Unusual vaginal discharge
• Pain when passing urine
• A white/cloudy or watery discharge from the tip of the penis
• Pain when passing urine
• Possible pain in the testicles.
To find out if you have been infected with Chlamydia you will need to have a test/check-up. For women this involves taking swabs from in and around the vagina. For a man, you may be asked to provide an urine sample, and a swab may be taken from the urethra. I will give more details at the end of the blog about where to get yourself checked. Have a look at this leaflet if you want to find out more.
When you hear the word Syphilis, you may envision an old pirate’s STI, but it is in fact on the increase in the UK/Herefordshire, although it is not as common as Chlamydia. The side effects for Syphilis can be a lot more serious than Chlamydia, and if it is left untreated can cause very serious health problems in both men and women. This STI is caused by the bacterium called Treponema Pallidum, which is easily passed on by sexual contact, anyone who is sexually active can catch it. The signs and symptoms are the same for both men and women, but they can be difficult to recognize. This is because Syphilis develops in 4 stages.
First Stage Syphilis:
• One or more sores (usually painless) will appear where the bacteria entered the body.
Second Stage Syphilis: (if the infection remains)
• Painless rashes can spread all over the body, or appear in patches.
• Flat, warty looking growths on the vulva in women and around the arms in both men and women
• A flu-like illness, tiredness and less of an appetite with swollen glands
• White patches on the tongue or roof of the mouth
• Patchy hair loss
Latent Syphilis: (untreated) Without any symptoms. Diagnosis is made by a positive blood test.
Third Stage Syphilis: Untreated for many years after being infected. This will start to cause damage to the heart, brain, bones and nervous system. This stage is very rare in the UK.
To find out if you might have Syphilis you will need to have a check up. This will include have a blood test, as well as a genital examination, and taking swabs. The doctor or nurse may look over your body to look for any rashes or warty growths. There’s a lot more information in this leaflet if you want to find out more.
If you think you may have either of these STIs, or would simply like to have a check up, you can get in contact with Gaol Street Health Centre in Hereford, on 01432 378915. If you’d like any further information about Sexual Health services, please visit the NHS website.