Overview



Please note that information in this section is intended as educational information only, and is geared towards sexually active individuals with a vagina. Please see the resources section for links to additional information, and sources of medical advice.

Chlamydia and gonorrhea infections most frequently affect the genitals, but can also affect other areas like the rectum, throat and eyes. Many people who have vaginas with chlamydia and gonorrhea infections have no symptoms and these bacteria are most common among young people aged 15-25. Both infections have been on the rise in Canada.



Chlamydia

Gonorrhea

Those who are at risk for one infection are usually at risk for the other, so molecular diagnostic lab tests usually test for both of the infections at the same time.

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Chlamydia



About 50% of men and 70% of people who have vaginas do not experience symptoms of chlamydia infection. Those infected without symptoms can still experience long term consequences and may be spreading the disease without knowing it.

Chlamydia infections are more common in people who have vaginas, especially younger people.

In 2012, there were 103,716 chlamydia infections reported. But because most infections do not have symptoms, the real number of cases is likely much higher. A breakdown of infections by province is below:

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Gonorrhea



About 50% of people who have vaginas do not experience symptoms of gonorrhea infection. Those infected without symptoms can still experience long term consequences and may be spreading the disease without knowing it.


Gonorrhea infections are most common among younger people.


In 2012, there were 8,241 gonorrhea infections reported. But because most infections do not have symptoms, the real number of cases is likely much higher. A breakdown of infections by province is below:


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Transmission & Symptoms



Chlamydia and gonorrhea can be transmitted in multiple ways:

Sexual Transmission
  • • Genital to genital
  • • Genital to anal
  • • Oral to genital/anal
Sharing Items
  • • Sex toys
  • • Mutual Masturbation
Penetration or Ejaculation is not Required



When symptoms do occur, it can often take some time to show up.

Chlamydia
  • • May take 2-7 days to appear after infection
Gonorrhea
  • • May take several weeks to appear after infection



Symptoms for either chlamydia or gonorrhea infections can include:


Unusual Vaginal Discharge

Unusual Bleeding

Abdominal or Back Pain

Pain or Burning During Sex or When Urinating

Pain, Itching or Bleeding in Rectum

Sore Throat or Swelling

Red or Itchy Eyes, Discharge

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Complications



PELVIC INFLAMMATORY DISEASE


Untreated chlamydia and gonorrhea infections in people who have vaginas can progress and spread to the uterus and fallopian tubes. When the infection spreads, this is called Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). Pelvic inflammatory disease can lead to:


Ectopic Pregnancy

Infertility

Chronic Pelvic Pain

About 100,000 Canadian people who have vaginas develop symptomatic cases of PID every year, but an estimated 2/3 of cases are recognized. About 10-15% of people who have vaginas at a reproductive age are expected to have one episode of PID.

PREGNANCY


Chlamydia and gonorrhea infections in pregnant people can cause:


Pre-Term Labour

Miscarriage

Low Birth Weight

Infection at Birth

LYMPHOGRANULOMA VENERUM


Untreated chlamydia infections can also lead to Luphogranuloma Venerum (LGV), which can cause ulcerating sores or lumps, inside or outside of the genitals.

OTHER ISSUES


If not treated, clamydia can also cause rashes, sores and joint pain. Untreated gonorrhea can cause arthritis or severe infection in the blood.

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Treatment



CHLAMYDIA


Chlamydia infections are usually treated with antibiotics. The course and duration of the treatment depends on how severe the infection is. Less serious infections are treated with a dose or course of antibiotics. More serious infections including PID could require hospitalization and treatment by IV antibiotics.



Antibiotics

Hospitalization

GONORRHEA


Gonorrhea infections are usually treated with dual therapy antibiotics including:



Oral Antibiotic

Injected Antibiotic

In some cases, gonorrhea has become resistant to antibiotics, and there is a worry that the current treatment may eventually no longer work in the future.

FOLLOW UP


When a chlamydia or gonorrhea infection is identified, other follow ups in addition to treatment are:


Partner Notifcation & Testing

Re-Testing in 6 months

Public Health Reporting
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Prevention



Ways to prevent chlamydia or gonorrhea infections, or more serious consequences are:


Using Protection During Sex
  • • Use condoms or female condoms for penetrative sex with any body parts or objects
  • • Use dental dams and condoms for oral sex
  • • Remember that some contraceptive strategies (birth control pill, diaphragm, IUDs) prevent pregnancy, but not STIs

Get Screened Appropriately
  • • If you are sexually active, it is recommended that you are screened regularly
  • • If you had unprotected sex, or the protection failed / broke
  • • If you have or are planning to have a new sexual partner
  • • You or your partner is having sex with another sexual partner
  • • Your partner or a previous partner has or had an STI

Learn & Talk About It
  • • Learn about STIs (which you are doing - good job!)
  • • Talk to your partner about prevention and screening
  • • Talk to your doctor about any concerns or questions
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