Chlamydia & Gonorrhea

Chlamydia and gonorrhea are both sexually transmitted infections caused by bacteria.

You can get chlamydia or gonorrhea by having unprotected oral, vaginal or anal sex or sharing sex toys with a person who has chlamydia or gonorrhea

Babies can get chlamydia or gonorrhea from their mother during birth.

Most people do not have symptoms for chlamydia or gonorrhea and do not know they are infected. If you have symptoms, they usually appear two days to six weeks after sex with an infected partner, but can take longer to show up. 

The only way to know if you have chlamydia or gonorrhea is to get tested.

Female signs and symptoms

Here are signs and symptoms of chlamydia and gonorrhea for females:

  • New or different discharge from the vagina
  • Abnormal bleeding in between periods
  • Burning or pain when urinating
  • Need to urinate more often
  • Abdominal pain, sometimes with chills and fever
  • Pain during or after sex
  • Bleeding during or after sex
  • Vaginal irritation
  • Rectal discharge after anal sex
  • Sore throat after oral sex

Male signs and symptoms

Here are signs and symptoms of chlamydia and gonorrhea for males:

  • Discharge from the penis
  • Burning or pain when urinating
  • Need to urinate more often
  • Pain and swelling in the testicles
  • An itchy feeling inside the penis
  • Rectal discharge after anal sex
  • Sore throat after oral sex

Ask your doctor to test for sexually transmitted infections or visit a Sexual Health Clinic for testing if you think you have chlamydia or gonorrhea.  A urine sample or a swab of the cervix, penis, throat or rectum is used to test for chlamydia and gonorrhea.  Do not urinate for two hours before giving a urine sample.

Chlamydia and gonorrhea are treated with antibiotics.  Follow these guidelines to make sure your treatment is successful:

  • Finish all of your antibiotics, even if you are feeling better, to make sure the infection is cured.
  • Do not have oral, vaginal or anal sex for at least one week or seven days after you and your partner have been treated. Otherwise, you could re-infect each other.
  • If you use hormonal contraceptives such as birth control pills, use another kind of birth control such as condoms as a back-up because some antibiotics can decrease the effectiveness of hormonal contraception.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding so you get antibiotics that are safe for your baby.
  • If you are pregnant, you need to have a follow-up test to make sure that the infection is cured. This test should be done four weeks after you finish your antibiotics.
  • You need to tell all sexual partners from the last two months to get tested for sexually transmitted infections. A public health nurse can help notify them for you.  Your name will be kept confidential.

What happens if you are not treated?

If you are not treated for these infections:

  • You can give chlamydia and gonorrhea to your sexual partner. 
  • Women can get Pelvic Inflammatory Disease or PID, an infection that scars fallopian tubes and causes long-term pelvic pain. Women may have become infertile (unable to have children) when the fallopian tubes are blocked by scar tissue.
  • Men can develop epididymitis, a condition that causes swelling or pain in their testicles. Men may become infertile (unable to have children) when the tubes carrying the sperm are blocked by scar tissue.
  • Pregnant women with chlamydia or gonorrhea may have problems during their pregnancy and/or the infection can be passed on to a baby at birth.

Here are some places you can get information, testing or treatment for chlamydia and gonorrhea:

Here are some tips to protect yourself from getting chlamydia and gonorrhea:

  • Do not have sex. There are many ways to show love besides sex. Kissing, touching and talking feel good and are safe.
  • Practise safer sex including using condoms or dental dams from start to finish every time you have sex.
  • Limit your number of sexual partners. The chance of getting a sexually transmitted infection goes up with each new sexual partner.

Having a sexually transmitted infection increases your chances of getting other sexually transmitted infections. If you have chlamydia or gonorrhea, get tested for other sexually transmitted infections.

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