Sexually transmitted diseases or STDs are the infections that spread through sexual contact1. People and even health organizations may often use STIs (sexually transmitted infections) and STDs interchangeably but both are quite different. STIs are infections that are not yet developed into disease and they can be caused by certain viruses, bacterium, or parasites2

It’ll be correct to say that STDs emerge from an STI initially, meaning when pathogens (bacteria, virus or parasite) attack the human body they start as an infection. But as they breed, multiply and begin to interrupt the body's normal functioning and structure, they become a sexually transmitted disease2.  

In this blog today, we will answer all your questions about two of the most common (others being HPV, syphilis, etc.) STDs - Gonorrhea and Chlamydia3,4

What Are Chlamydia And Gonorrhea? 

As we’ve read above, Chlamydia and Gonorrhea are STDs; they are caused by bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae, respectively5,6. Chlamydia predominantly infects younger females but can also occur in both men and women of all age groups7. Gonorrhea equally affects both genders8.  

Chlamydia trachomatis Bacteria Under Microscope

Neisseria gonorrhoeae Bacteria Under Microscope

How Does Chlamydia And Gonorrhea Spread? 

Chlamydia and Gonorrhea are sexually transmitted diseases, which means that they can spread through sexual interactions. In simpler terms, if an infected person has intercourse with a healthy individual then he/she is most likely to contract the STD. The spread of these STDs can occur through oral, vaginal and anal sex5,9

A new born baby can also catch infections during the childbirth if his/her mother is infected with either Chlamydia or Gonorrhea5,9

Chlamydia & Gonorrhea Symptoms

In early stages, the symptoms and signs of Chlamydia as well as Gonorrhea are not that apparent. Although in both cases, no to mild symptoms can be observed in the genital tract10,11

Some of the common symptoms of both these STDs are listed below10,11-

Chlamydia Symptoms

  • In males, the symptoms consist of pain while urinating, pus-like or cloudy discharge from the penis, sore testicles and burning sensation in the urethra. 
  • In females, the symptoms include pain while urinating, unusual vaginal discharge, lower abdominal or stomach pain, difficulty in having intercourse, and bleeding in-between periods.

Gonorrhea Symptoms

  • Males going through a Gonorrhea infection get symptoms such as unusual discharge from their penis which could be green, white or yellow in colour. Inflammation of foreskin, tender testicle/s and burning sensation while urinating are other common signs of this STD.
  • Females with Gonorrhea infection often get similar symptoms to that of Chlamydia infection. These symptoms include pain in abdomen, unusual vaginal discharge, discomfort while passing urine, unusual bleeding in-between periods or even after sexual intercourse.

Furthermore, bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis can also affect the rectum region, wherein, the infection caused by it may or may not show symptoms. However, the typical symptoms for the same include rectal bleeding/discharge and rectal pain10. In some cases, the individuals can also get chlamydial eye infection, conjunctivitis or more frequently known as pink eye10,12

Furthermore, Gonorrhea can also affect other parts of the body such as11-

  • Eyes: Pain in the eyes along with pus-like discharge and increased sensitivity towards light 
  • Joints: Inflammation of the joints, known as Gonococcal arthritis13
  • Rectum: Irritation or itching in anus, pus-like discharge or bleeding from the rectum and constipated bowel movements
  • Throat: Sore throat or throat infection and in some cases, presence of inflamed lymph nodes (small and round cluster of immune system cells14) in the neck 

Risk Factors

Although both STDs are highly contagious amongst any age group and gender, some factors still put specific individuals at high risk. 

These factors include5,9:

  • Having multiple sexual partners
  • Practicing unprotected sex 
  • Sexually active women below the age of 25 years (especially in case of Gonorrhea)
  • Having a sexual partner who recently got diagnosed with Gonorrhea or Chlamydia 
  • Baby born to a mother who’s infected 

Diagnosis

Detection of  STDs Gonorrhea and Chlamydia can be assessed by a simple test. These tests include the following:

  • Swab Test: For testing Gonorrhea, a swab from the affected area (throat, vagina or rectum) is taken and sent for testing15. Meanwhile, in male patients, traces of Chlamydia bacteria are collected using a thin swab from the urethra. In women, a vaginal swab is taken16
  • Urine Test: In this test, the urine samples are analyzed for the presence of bacteria15,16

Talking about sexual health can be uncomfortable for both men and women, which is why many STD cases go unreported. This is where at-home self-collection STD testing kits come to your rescue! Such kits maintain a patient's privacy while also assisting in providing accurate results. A variety of at-home self-collection test kits are available in the market, which can be used to detect common STDs like Chlamydia and Gonorrhea. 

Lifecell also offers one such at-home self-collection Chlamydia & Gonorrhea test kit that provides personalised insights into your sexual health.

About LifeCell’s At-Home Self Collection Kit!

Collecting your samples for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea tests are now simple as ever! Once you order LifeCell’s at-home self-collection kit from www.lifecell.in, you will receive a list of items (within the kit) along with an instruction manual to help you collect the sample. Follow the easy steps and ship your sample to us. 

Rest assured! You will receive the results in the next 2 days (after your sample reaches us) through a personalized dashboard.

Treatment

If you or your partner have been diagnosed with Chlamydia or Gonorrhea, it is advisable that you seek medical attention. Fortunately, if these sexually transmitted diseases are detected earlier, they can be treated with the help of antibiotics15,16

Also, if one of the sexual partners gets a positive test result (for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea or any other STD) then it’s highly recommended that the other partner must get screened too.

Conclusion

 The stigma around sexually transmitted diseases is still prevalent in our society.  It’s high time that we stop the so-called “taboo” and start addressing STDs as a medical condition. A few easy steps can be taken to raise awareness about sexually transmitted diseases. This could include practising safe sex and giving teenagers basic sex education.

If you or your partner are experiencing any STD or STI symptoms, you should get screened as soon as possible. However, if you want to take control of your sexual health, LifeCell’s at-home self collection test kit can be of great aid. Our simple test kit will help in the detection of Chlamydia and Gonorrhea within 2 days (once the sample reaches the lab), giving reliable results and expert recommendations for further treatment.  

Your sexual health is as important as your mental & physical well-being so don’t ignore it and get tested today!

References:

  1. https://medlineplus.gov/sexuallytransmitteddiseases.html#:~:text=Sexually%20transmitted%20diseases%20(STDs)%2C,through%20other%20intimate%20physical%20contact
  2. https://publichealth.tulane.edu/blog/sti-vs-std/ 
  3. https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/std-rates-by-country 
  4. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/sexually-transmitted-infections-(stis)#:~:text=STIs%20have%20a%20profound%20impact,and%20trichomoniasis%20(156%20million)
  5. https://medlineplus.gov/chlamydiainfections.html 
  6. https://www.cdc.gov/std/gonorrhea/stdfact-gonorrhea-detailed.htm#:~:text=Gonorrhea%20is%20a%20sexually%20transmitted,N
  7. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chlamydia/symptoms-causes/syc-20355349 
  8. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gonorrhea/symptoms-causes/syc-20351774 
  9. https://www.cdc.gov/std/gonorrhea/stdfact-gonorrhea.htm 
  10. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chlamydia/symptoms-causes/syc-20355349 
  11. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gonorrhea/symptoms-causes/syc-20351774  
  12. https://www.cdc.gov/conjunctivitis/index.html  
  13. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000453.htm#:~:text=Gonococcal%20arthritis%20is%20inflammation%20of,due%20to%20a%20bacterial%20infection.  
  14. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/swollen-lymph-nodes/symptoms-causes/syc-20353902 
  15. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gonorrhea/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20351780  
  16. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chlamydia/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20355355