The thing about sex is that you are up close and personal with someone. So if they have an infection of any kind – from a cold to crabs – you can catch it.
Part of staying safe is knowing what sexually transmitted infections are, how to prevent them, how to recognise them and what to do if you get one.
There are also a number of other conditions related to your genitals that you should know about.
Check out the conditions below and:
- be informed
- be healthy
- be safe
Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection of the genitals, rectum, or throat.
How do you get infected with chlamydia?
By having vaginal and or anal sex without a condom with someone who has the infection. In rare cases, chlamydia can be transmitted through oral sex. It can also be transmitted from mother to baby at birth.
What are the symptoms?
Women often do not have symptoms. If they do, they can include a change in vaginal secretions, lower abdominal pain, or abnormal vaginal bleeding. Men may discharge from the penis, pain when urinating, penile irritation, or testicular pain. Rectal chlamydia may cause a discharge from the rectum or anus and discomfort in these areas.
How long do symptoms take to develop?
Symptoms can occur within 2 to 14 days of infection. However, many infected individuals do not have obvious symptoms and can remain infectious for months or even years without knowing it.
How is chlamydia treated?
Chlamydia is easily cured with antibiotics. The standard treatment takes seven days, but single-dose treatment is now available.
Why should I worry about getting chlamydia?
Women: If left untreated, chlamydia may lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). This is when the reproductive organs, situated in the pelvis, become inflamed. PID may cause ectopic pregnancies (the pregnancy develops in the fallopian tubes instead of the uterus), infertility (when the fallopian tubes become damaged by scar tissue preventing further pregnancy), or chronic pelvic pain.
Babies: Chlamydia can be passed from mom to baby during birth. The baby may subsequently develop eye and ear infections or pneumonia.
Men: The infection may cause epididymitis (inflammation of the epididymis in the scrotum), chronic urethral irritation, or chronic testicular discomfort.
Chlamydia may cause infertility in men, although this is uncommon. Rarely, chlamydia may trigger Reiter’s disease, which causes chronic arthritis, rashes, and eye inflammation.
Do sexual partners need treatment?
Sexual partners exposed to vaginal, oral, or anal sex without using a condom are at high risk of the infection. This means they should be treated regardless of symptoms or test results.
How do I look after myself if I have been infected?
- Take your medication as advised by your healthcare professional. Even if you feel better, finish all the antibiotics. Symptoms may improve in a few days, but the bacteria may still be in your body.
- Avoid having sexual intercourse during treatment because the infection can still be transmitted. If you receive single-dose therapy, you should avoid sex for seven days after treatment.
- After completing the treatment, phone your doctor or return to the clinic for a follow-up.
Crabs (pubic lice) are tiny insect-like animals that can cause itching in the genital area. Crabs use their claws to grab and hang on to pubic hairs while feeding on blood.
Who can get crab lice, and how do they spread?
Crab lice are common, and anyone can get them. Having close bodily contact with another person who is infected spreads crabs. They can survive for some time away from the body, so it is also possible to catch them by sharing towels, clothes, or someone else’s bed or bedding.
What are the symptoms of crabs?
The main symptom of crabs is itching in the pubic or groin area. This is due to irritation from the crab bites. Often the crabs can be seen moving in the pubic hair.
Are crabs in the pubic hair the same as lice in the scalp?
No, crabs found in the pubic hair differ from those in the scalp, although pubic crabs can sometimes be found in the beard, armpits, chest hair, and eyelashes.
Who is at risk of crabs?
Anyone who has close physical contact with someone with crabs is at risk of catching them. You can also be reinfected, so it is essential to make sure you tell any recent sexual partners that they may have caught crabs from you and that they are treated. People who share a house or flat with someone infected need only be treated if they have slept in the bed or use the infected person’s towels or clothing.
What is the treatment?
- There are several over-the-counter shampoos on the market for crabs. Shaving off the pubic hair is not necessary. It would be best if you also washed articles that may be infected, such as sheets and towels. After treatment, a fine-toothed comb can be used to remove the crabs and their eggs.