Living Well: Chlamydia, gonorrhea common, yet easily treated: Get tested during MRH’s March into Health event
During the month of March, Memorial Regional Health is offering reduced-cost lab tests, including tests for certain sexually transmitted diseases. If you are sexually active, you should be tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea annually, especially if you have multiple partners. They are common sexually transmitted diseases that can be easily treated.
Chlamydia on the rise
“I recommend that everyone younger than 30 be tested for chlamydia each year. Chlamydia is a bacterial infection, so all it takes is one course of antibiotics to treat,” said Dr. Elise Sullivan, family medicine physician with MRH Medical Clinic.
Since 2000, rates of chlamydia have been steadily climbing, according to The Centers for Disease Control, which recommends that women younger than 25 and older women with risk factors be tested every year. Men can also get chlamydia and should be tested regularly. Risk factors include having unprotected sex and being young, as young people are more prone to the disease. Teenhelp.com states that about 10 percent of teen girls who are sexually active have chlamydia.
There are often no symptoms with chlamydia. Since symptoms can go unnoticed, it’s wise to be tested each year.
It’s important to catch and treat chlamydia because, left untreated, it can result in serious health problems. For example, it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility in women. In men, it can damage sperm. Pregnant women should be tested for chlamydia to prevent premature birth or certain infections upon birth.
Gonorrhea more common than thought
You might think “the clap” is a thing of the past, but the CDC states gonorrhea is a very common sexually transmitted disease, especially among young people age 15 to 24. Like chlamydia, gonorrhea is easily spread by having unprotected sex.
“We are seeing increasing rates of gonorrhea across the county. Similar to chlamydia, it can be treated with a single course of antibiotics, and it also can cause infertility if left untreated,” Sullivan said.
Surprisingly, the two infections have very similar symptoms — both can cause discharge from the vagina or penis, and both can cause a burning sensation while urinating. Other less common symptoms the two infections share are bleeding between periods, swelling of the testicles and anal pain or itching.
Gonorrhea can also cause flu-like symptoms, including a sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, difficulty swallowing, eye discharge and swollen, painful joints. Yet, there can be no symptoms at all.
“Both can be detected by a simple urine test, which we are offering during our March into Health event,” Sullivan said.
When it opens later this year, the Memorial Regional Health medical office building will recognize supporters with a hand-forged iron tree of life.