STIs and Symptoms

Common STIs are described below. It is very important to know that many people with an STI will not have any visible symptoms.


Chlamydia


Chlamydia is one of the most common STIs and it can have serious long-term effects. But, if properly treated, Chlamydia can be cured. If not, Chlamydia will spread in your body and can cause sterility (the inability to ever have children). It usually takes one to three weeks for symptoms of Chlamydia to appear. It is also possible to be infected with Chlamydia and not show any symptoms at all. Girls, you may have Chlamydia if you have:



  • New or unusual discharge from your vagina;

  • Burning feeling when peeing;

  • Pain in your abdomen, sometimes with fever and chills;

  • Pain during sex.

  • Most females with Chlamydia don’t have any noticeable symptoms.

Guys, you may have Chlamydia if you have:



  • Watery or milky “drip” from your penis;

  • Itchiness inside your penis;

  • Burning feeling while peeing;

  • Pain or swelling of the testicles

Remember, you can have Chlamydia and not even know it. That’s why it’s important to practice safer sex by wearing a condom. It is also very important that you & your partner are tested before having sex. Chlamydia, if properly treated, can be cured with antibiotics. You’ll need to follow all treatment instructions carefully and be sure to have a follow-up visit with your nurse or doctor to make sure all signs of the infection are gone. If left untreated Chlamydia, can seriously affect your life: Girls, you could:



  • Develop chronic lower abdominal pain;

  • Become sterile;

  • Have a tubal pregnancy (pregnancy in the Fallopian tubes). This is a serious condition that can rupture and cause serious internal bleeding.

Guys could become sterile if untreated or improperly treated. If you’ve become infected with Chlamydia, tell everyone you’ve had sex with so they can get tested and treated. Top


Gonorrhea


Gonorrhea (also known as “The Clap”) is a common STI that can be cured with antibiotics. If not treated early, it can seriously affect on your health and, like Chlamydia, may cause sterility. It usually takes three to five days for symptoms of gonorrhea to appear. But you can be infected with gonorrhea and show no symptoms at all. You can get and spread gonorrhea through oral, anal, and vaginal sex. Most girls infected with gonorrhea don’t have any symptoms, but you may have gonorrhea if you have:



  • New or different discharge from your vagina;

  • Burning feeling when peeing;

  • Pain in your abdomen, sometimes with fever and chills;

  • Pain during sex.

Guys infected with gonorrhea usually show symptoms, but some don’t. You may have gonorrhea if you have:



  • Discharge from your penis (thick, creamy, and yellow-green in colour);

  • Burning feeling when peeing;

  • Painful or swollen testicles.

Remember, you can have gonorrhea and not even know it. That’s why it’s important to practice safer sex by wearing a condom. It is also very important that you & your partner are tested before having sex. Gonorrhea, if properly treated, can be cured with antibiotics. You’ll need to follow all treatment instructions carefully and be sure to have a follow-up visit with your nurse or doctor to make sure all signs of the infection are gone. If left untreated, gonorrhea can seriously affect your life and lead to sterility. Tell your partner if you’ve become infected with gonorrhea so they can get tested and treated. Top


Syphilis


Syphilis is a very serious STI that is passed from one person to another through unprotected oral, anal or vaginal sex. If untreated, syphilis can eventually affect your entire body and may lead to brain damage, heart disease, paralysis and death. Like other STIs, a person infected with syphilis may not show any symptoms at all and may unknowingly pass the disease onto others. Syphilis, if treated early, is curable with antibiotics. Syphilis, in both males and females, develops in four stages.


Stage One Syphilis


A painless sore called a chancre (pronounced kanker) may appear between 9 and 90 days after contact with an infected person. It develops at the spot where the bacteria entered the body, usually on the penis, inside or around the vagina, or inside the mouth or anus. Sores inside the vagina and anus often go unnoticed and may disappear if not treated. But even if the sore goes away, the bacteria stays in the body and the disease may progress to stage two.


Stage Two Syphilis


About six weeks to six months after infection, flu-like symptoms may be felt. For some people, a rash appears over the entire body and is most noticeable on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. Like Stage One, symptoms in Stage Two can disappear without any treatment. But remember, the syphilis bacteria stays in the body and the disease may progress to Stage Three.


Stage Three Syphilis


In Stage Three the disease lays dormant (asleep) in the body and the infected person has no symptoms. But, the syphilis bacteria may continue to grow and multiply. This stage can last from 1 to 30 years and may eventually lead to Stage Four – the most damaging stage of all.


Stage Four Syphilis


Years after you’re first infected, untreated syphilis can cause blindness, brain damage, heart disease, paralysis and even death.


Congenital Syphilis


If a woman is pregnant and gets Syphilis, she can pass it to her unborn baby. Babies born with syphilis may be blind, deaf or mentally delayed. They can have bone deformities or be stillborn. Not everyone develops visible symptoms of syphilis. You may be infected and unknowingly pass the disease on to others. You can help protect yourself against syphilis by using condoms and dental dams when you have sex. Syphilis can be cured with antibiotics, so get tested if you have had unprotected sex with someone. Tell your partner if you’ve been infected with syphilis so they can get tested and treated. The longer syphilis goes untreated, the more damage it can cause the body. There’s more information about syphilis on the Department of Health and Social Services web site. Syphilis Fact Sheet


Trichomonas


Trichomonas (also called “Trich”) is caused by a parasite in the vagina or urethra (the tube or duct through which urine leaves your body). It can be cured with antibiotics. Symptoms usually begin to show 3 to 21 days after infection occurs. Girls, you may have trichomonas if you're experiencing:



  • Change in vaginal discharge (like an increase in the amount you produce or a change in texture [thinner or frothy]; the discharge may also have a musty/fishy smell);

  • Soreness, itching, and inflammation in and around the vagina;

  • Pain when peeing;

  • Pain when having sex.

Most guys with trichomonas have no signs or symptoms. But you may have trichomonas if you have irritation or pain inside your penis, a mild discharge or slight burning after you pee or ejaculate. Protect yourself against trichomonas by using condoms and dental dams. Tell your partner if you have trichomonas so they can get tested and treated. Top


HPV


HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) is a common STI. It is the virus that causes genital warts and may lead to cancer of the cervix or penis. Signs and symptoms of HPV are different for males and females. Girls, you may have HPV if you have:



  • Pinkish, red, gray or white warts on your vagina and/or anus;

  • Burning, itching, pain or bleeding around your genitals;

Guys, you may have HPV if you have:



  • Large, soft growths on your penis or around your anus

  • Warts on your penis

  • Bleeding and/or secretion from your penis

  • Decreased force when you pee

Remember, you may have HPV and not experience any symptoms. That's why, for females, it is very important to get a yearly PAP smear that tests for signs of cancerous or pre-cancerous growth on the cervix. Early detection is your best defense so see your nurse or doctor to make an appointment for a PAP smear. Although there is no cure for HPV, treatment is available for the warts. Talk to your nurse or doctor about which is appropriate for you. Condoms and dental dams don't always protect against HPV. However, there is a vaccination that may protect you against this virus but it only works if you don't already have HPV. Ask your nurse or doctor for more information about this vaccine. http://www.hpvinfo.ca/hpvinfo/home.aspx


Genital Herpes


Genital herpes is a painful STI that causes sores on or around the penis, vagina and/or anus. It is spread through skin-to-skin contact with an infected area (sore) during oral, anal, and/or vaginal sex. There is no cure for herpes. Some people will only have one painful herpes outbreak, while others will have outbreaks for their entire life. If you are diagnosed, your nurse or doctor can prescribe certain medications that will help you manage this infection that may reduce the frequency and length of outbreaks. It usually takes a few days to a week for symptoms of herpes to be noticed. If infected with herpes, both males and females will notice a tingly or itchy feeling in the genital area. Soon after, there will be a cluster of tiny blisters. When the blisters burst they leave behind painful sores; these sores last two to four weeks. To protect you against genital herpes, always use condoms and dental dams during sex; avoid sex with a person who has sores on or around their genitals; and avoid oral sex with a person who has or has had a cold sore. If you are pregnant or become pregnant and you have herpes, tell your doctor. A mother can pass the herpes virus onto her baby during delivery causing lesions (cuts) and possibly life-threatening infections in the central nervous system of the baby.


Scabies and Pubic Lice (Crabs)


Scabies and Crabs are tiny bugs that live on the skin of an infected person. They are usually spread through sexual contact, but you can also catch scabies or crabs by sharing bed linen, clothes or towels with an infected person. You may have scabies if you feel itchy over your whole body -- especially at night. A rash, caused when the female bug digs into the skin to lay eggs, usually appears in the folds of skin around the penis or vagina, between the fingers, and on the wrists, elbows and abdomen. You may have crabs if you feel itchy around your genitals and see small, light brown bugs crawling on your skin. If the bugs have laid eggs, you’ll find oval-shaped “shells” on pubic hair that are hard to pick off. If you have scabies or crabs, help prevent spreading the bugs by avoiding close physical contact with others until you get treatment. Scabies and crabs are treated with special creams, lotions or shampoos you can buy at your local drugstore. Top


Sexually Transmitted MRSA


New studies have shown that a highly antibiotic-resistant strain of the Meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria can now be spread through sexual contact. The bacteria appear to be transmitted most easily through intimate sexual contact, but can spread through casual skin-to-skin contact or contact with contaminated surfaces. MRSA stands for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. It is a bacterium responsible for difficult-to-treat infections in humans. This bacteria has become problematic because it is resistant to certain types of treatment with antibiotics. Recent studies have shown that MRSA can also be sexually transmitted. Sexual contact has been documented in the NWT and Canada. The prevalence of this type of transmission is not known, but it is being investigated. MRSA start as small red bumps on the skin that resemble pimples, spider bites, or boils that may be accompanied by fever and occasionally rashes. Within a few days the bumps become larger, painful and eventually open into deep, pus-filled boils. Risk Factors include a history of injecting drug use, outpatient visit, nursing home admission, antibiotic exposure, chronic illness, poor hygiene and crowded living conditions, as well as close contact with a person with risk factors


Hepatitis B


Hepatitis B (also called Hep B) is an STI that can cause liver failure. It is spread by having unprotected oral, anal and vaginal sex. There is no cure for hepatitis B but there is a vaccine, so talk to your nurse or doctor about getting vaccinated. Remember, even if you’re vaccinated, still practice safer sex – there are many other STIs you could catch by having unprotected or unsafe sex. There are two stages of a hepatitis B infection. When a person is first infected, it is called an “acute” (short-term) infection. Many people will recover from this stage in a few months as their bodies build immunity to the virus and fight off the infection. Those people whose bodies can’t fight off the infection develop “chronic” (long-term) hepatitis B. Hepatitis B becomes a chronic infection after six months. People with chronic hepatitis B are at higher risk for liver failure and liver diseases like cirrhosis and liver cancer. There is medication available to help manage chronic hepatitis. If you’re infected, talk to your nurse or doctor about what options are available to you. Most people will show no signs of being infected with hepatitis B. For those that do show signs, they will likely experience “flu-like” symptoms, like tiredness, aching joints, stomach pain, loss of appetite and nausea. It may take 45 to 180 days after infection for symptoms to appear. To protect yourself from hepatitis B, always use condoms and dental dams when you have sex and get tested if you change sex partners. Hepatitis B can be a serious infection, so help protect yourself and others by always having safer sex.


HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS (Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is a lifelong disease that is most commonly spread through unprotected oral, anal and vaginal sex. There are two stages to this disease. The first stage is HIV which weakens the immune system of the person infected. The immune system has an important role in our bodies because it helps us fight off infections and viruses to keep us healthy. Sometimes, infections and viruses are too strong for our immune system to fight. HIV is one of these infections. Once the body’s immune system has been considerably weakened, HIV develops into “full blown” AIDS. Once HIV develops into AIDS, the health of the person infected deteriorates rapidly and death is likely to occur shortly thereafter. As little as a few years ago, HIV/AIDS was a death sentence. But now, with the help of antiretroviral medications, the development of HIV into AIDS can be slowed, giving the person infected with HIV a longer life expectancy. This is not to say HIV/AIDS is still not deadly. Not everyone develops signs or symptoms of having been infected with HIV. But sometimes, between six weeks and three months, the body may begin to show signs. These symptoms may include fever, rash, muscle aches and swollen lymph nodes and glands (found behind your jaw and under your arms). Most people newly infected with HIV will not show any of these signs so get tested to make sure you’re not infected. Protect yourself and others from HIV/AIDS by using condoms and dental dams every time you have sex. You can get tested for HIV by visiting your Community Health Nurse or Physician. The test is free and confidential. Tell your partner if you’ve been infected with HIV so they can get tested and, if they test positive, discuss options for treatment.


Chlamydia

Gonorrhoea

Syphilis

HPV

Genital Herpes

HIV/AIDS

LGV

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