Both are bacteria that can potentially be present on the skin, particularly around the genital region. They can be passed on through skin contact of contaminated areas as well as through sex.
As you will see below, both infections often have no symptoms, so anyone who has had unprotected sex should consider testing at an earlier stage. If you regularly use protection then routine screening every few months is reasonable as well.
However, the absence of symptoms does not mean that no infection is present so if there has been any risk then testing is advised.
Men just require a urine sample which is very accurate. Women will require vaginal swabs for the best accuracy. The testing can be performed at the same time as other infections such as Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea.
Usually if either infection is shown on testing then antibiotics sensitivity is also seen as well. This is where the laboratory test different antibiotics to find the most effective one available. This way when we treat we can be confident of cure. Most often oral antibiotics will suffice.
Thankfully both infections are not too serious on their own so a slight delay in treatment should not produce long term, irreversible damage. However, if they are present they can facilitate other infections meaning that it may be easier to catch something else and exhibit symptoms from that infection instead.
For example, Chlamydia may not produce symptoms in isolation but when coupled with mycoplasma and/or ureaplasma, it may be more likely to exhibit more troublesome symptoms.
Prevention of these infections is similar to others where protection offers good coverage but if there is protection failure then screening and treating early helps prevent the spread of the infection. Pre-emptive antibiotics are not advised as this can lead to antibiotics resistance.
Feel free to come and speak to our friendly and approachable doctors about any issues you may be having. Remember we still cover all the GP stuff as well.
HIV is a virus that can pass on primarily through sex and sharing of unsanitised drug needles. The former is the primary mode of transmission particularly unprotected vaginal or anal sex. Thankfully oral sex is considered negligible risk for HIV.
This is an important point because HIV often has no symptoms in the early stage. Some may experience severe symptoms such as high fever, marked body aches, chills, runny nose, sore throat and fatigue approximately 3 weeks after infection but there is considerable overlap with other conditions such as the flu and Covid 19. Therefore symptoms at the early stage are unreliable and should not be used to exclude or diagnose HIV. Testing is the only accurate way to do this.
Trichomonas is a fairly common parasite passed on through sex and affects women more often.
In a majority of people with Trichomonas, symptoms can be absent making it difficult to identify without testing. However, if symptoms are present then the below list shows the common presentation:
HPV is a virus that can infect many areas of the body. There are over 100 strains and the majority are low risk and reside on the skin and can cause conditions such as warts. While this isn’t pleasant it can be easily treated. Approximately 40 HPV strains can be passed on through sex but 12 to 14 of these are considered high risk for certain types of cancer.
Low risk strains of HPV may produce warts. Those that are passed on sexually may produce genital warts which are fleshy growths from the skin around the genital and anal region. High risk strains often have no symptoms until it is too late. If we take cervical cancer as an example, many women who are developing this cancer due to HPV have no symptoms at all.
Gonorrhoea is a bacterial infection that is commonly passed on through unprotected sex (vaginal, anal and oral).
Chlamydia is another bacterial infection exclusively passed on during sex (oral, vaginal and anal). As with gonorrhoea the risk is much higher in unprotected sex but if protection is not used correctly then the risk is increased as well.
Herpes/Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) is a virus that affects the skin. There are two major types known as type 1 and type 2. Typically HSV type 1 affects the mouth area and is associated with cold sores (passed on through kissing). HSV type 2 typically affects the genital area and is associated with sexual transmission.
HSV presents as painful/burning blisters that are often clustered together on the skin. For some the initial symptom will be a tingling sensation in the affected area before visual symptoms appear. Symptoms are very similar to shingles which is a condition caused by another member of the Herpes family.
Syphilis is a bacterial infection primarily passed on through sex. However, if an infected person has symptoms and that comes into contact with damaged or broken skin then it is possible to pass on even in the absence of sex.
The first stage of Syphilis presents with sore(s) at the location the infection entered the body, typically around the genital region but it can present on the anus or mouth as well. The sores tend to be round and are painless which can lead to a delay in identifying them.
The second stage usually presents with a widespread rash that can be anywhere on the body but the typical areas tend to be the hands/feet and torso region. The rashes are not itchy and they can appear quite flat, sometimes making them easy to miss.
You should consider screening if you have symptoms of a possible STD, if you have had a recent risky exposure (unprotected sex with a casual partner), or both.
Yes, you can. The common misconception is that oral sex is not considered ‘real’ sex and therfore has no risk but the opposite is true. Often oral sex is performed without protection and this is why infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea can pass on through oral sex.
Thankfully the majority can be cured but there are some such as Herpes and HIV that can be treated but not cured. This is why prevention is better than cure and ensuring safe sex goes a long way to reduce your risks.