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UNDERSTANDING CHLAMYDIA AND GONORRHEA

 

Chlamydia and gonorrhea are two of the most prevalent sexually transmitted diseases. Sexually active persons and persons within the reproductive age should be aware of how it impinges on their reproductive health.

Chlamydia, known to be “the great sterilizer”, is a widespread sexually transmitted disease caused by a gram-negative bacterium called Chlamydia trachomatis, and is the most common origin of the previously diagnosed nospecific vaginitis in females and non-gonococcal urethritis in males.

Transmission of this microorganism is brought about by sexual contact. Females usually acquire it through intercourse with an infected male, especially through the vaginal, oral and anal routes. The microorganism doesn’t cross the placenta during pregnancy, but if it remains undiagnosed and the baby is delivered vaginally, some babies can acquire pneumonia or conjunctivitis.

Half of infected men and women don’t have symptoms of chlamydia. On the other hand, symptomatic persons usually notice the changes at an average of two weeks after exposure.

Women usually have a yellow, mucopurulent vaginal discharge and a burning sensation during urination. Upon advancement to the fallopian tubes, some women are still asymptomatic while others experience lower abdominal and back pain. Other manifestations include fever, spotting or bleeding in between menstrual cycles and pain during sexual intercourse.

On the other hand, males usually have painful and difficult urination as well as clear to mucopurulent discharge from the penis. Around the penile opening, men could also experience a burning, itching sensation.

In both sexes, rectal and pharyngeal inflammation is also common, especially with oral and anal contact.


In order to avoid the progression or complications of chlamydia, it is advisable for sexually active women especially those 25 years old or younger to have an annual screening test for Chlamydia, pregnant women, as well as for older women who have risk factors such as those with multiple sex partners.

To treat chlamydia, doxycycline is usually the drug of choice which is given orally for seven days or alternatively, a single dose of azithromycin.

Gonorrhea, which is also known in lay terms as clap, drip, strain, white and dose, is caused by Neserria gonorrhea, a gram-negative diplococcus. This microorganism does not usually survive long outside the body, but if transmitted to a person, it is extremely contagious in nature. Sexually transmitted, its incubation period ranges from 3-8 days.

In women, this disease usually affects the urethra and endocervical canal. The infection could also progress to the vestibular glands and anus. It could be asymptomatic in females although many belong to the carrier population—those who carry the microorganism but are asymptomic but who could actively transmit the disease. Its most common complication in females includes the inflammation of the fallopian tubes, which could also result to pelvic inflammatory disease.

Men usually display the symptoms earlier than women. It could affect the anterior urethra and could induce a purulent discharge, and painful and frequent urination. Inflammation of the epididymis and prostate could ensue.

The causative agent could also be disseminated to the organs outside the reproductive tract and could cause skin lesions, septic arthritis, inflammation of the tendons and synovial membranes, and sometimes, endocarditis and meningitis.

Penicillin was the drug of choice before microorganisms became resistant to this drug, but nowadays, a single intramuscular injection of ceftriaxone or a single oral dose of cefixime, ciprofloxacin or ofloxacin is routinely given.

Although these two diseases could be screened and treated successfully, what is more important is that people at risk should be vigilant of sex partners and maintain a long-term, reciprocally monogamous relationship. The proper use of condoms could also help in keeping these diseases at bay.



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