Whats The Difference Between Chlamydia And Gonorrhea
Chlamydia and gonorrhea are the two most common bacterial sexually transmitted infections in the United States. Between the two infections, more than 2 million cases were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2019.
When left untreated, both chlamydia and gonorrhea can lead to more serious, long-term health problems, which is why testing is essentialregardless of whether or not youre experiencing symptoms.
If youre sexually active, getting tested for STIs can help keep you and your sexual partners healthy. In fact, for women and people with vaginas under the age of 25, and people with new or multiple sex partners, the CDC recommends STI screens at least once a year.
Even people in monogamous, long-term relationships should get tested at least once.
STI screening can help with early diagnosis and treatment. Diagnosing potential STIs early can reduce the risk of an STI leading to a more serious health complication.
Fortunately, there are antibiotics that can effectively treat both chlamydia and gonorrhea when diagnosed.
In this article, Ill describe the differences between chlamydia and gonorrhea, including their causes and symptoms. Ill talk about how each is treated and diagnosed, and which measures can help prevent them.
How Gonorrhea And Chlamydia Are Tested
Both gonorrhea and chlamydia can be diagnosed with similar methods. A healthcare provider might do a physical examination to look for symptoms, and they may do a urine test to check for the bacteria that cause chlamydia or gonorrhea.
But screening for chlamydia and gonorrhea doesnât have to take place at a clinic. With the Everlywell at-home Chlamydia & Gonorrhea Test, you can easily check for these STIs from the comfort and privacy of your home.
The kit comes with easy-to-follow instructions and everything you need to collect your sample at home, and your physician-reviewed results can be conveniently and securely viewed online on your device. Plus, if you receive a positive result after you get tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea with the Everlywell at-home test, youâll have the opportunity to connect with our independent physician networkâand may be prescribed medication to treat the infection.
Who Does Chlamydia Affect
Anyone whos sexually active can get chlamydia. The bacteria that causes chlamydia gets transmitted through vaginal fluid and semen, which means that people of all genders who have sex can become infected with chlamydia and infect their partners, too. If youre pregnant and have chlamydia, you can pass it on to your newborn.
Don’t Miss: Does Chlamydia Ever Go Away
Im Pregnant How Does Gonorrhea Affect My Baby
If you are pregnant and have gonorrhea, you can give the infection to your baby during delivery. This can cause serious health problems for your baby. If you are pregnant, talk to your healthcare provider about getting the correct examination, testing, and treatment. Treating gonorrhea as soon as possible will make health problems for your baby less likely.
What Can Happen If You Have Gonorrhea And Not Know It
Even without symptoms, if you have gonorrhea and you don’t get it treated, it can lead to other health problems. Untreated gonorrhea can damage your reproductive system, increase your risk of getting or giving HIV, cause epididymitis, or lead to infertility. In rare cases, it can spread to your blood or joints.
Read Also: Can You Treat Chlamydia With Antibiotics
How Can I Lower My Risk Of Getting It
Not having sex is the best way to avoid chlamydia and other STIs. If you have sex, use condoms to lower your risk. You should get tested if you have had sex without a condom. If you have an STI, dont have sex until you and your partner have been treated. You can get it again if your partner is not treated.
How Can I Protect Myself From Chlamydia
The only way to avoid getting chlamydia is to abstain from having vaginal, anal or oral sex with someone who has a chlamydia infection. And be sure that sex toys that carry the bacteria dont come in contact with your genitals.
Its not always possible to know if a current or potential partner has chlamydia, though, especially since many people with chlamydia never notice symptoms. With prevention in mind, its a good idea to make safer sex practices a regular part of your sex life:
- Use condoms during intercourse, anal sex and oral sex.
- Use dental dams during oral sex or vagina-to-vagina contact.
- Dont share sex toys, but if you do, wash them after each use and cover toys used for penetration with a condom.
- Have sex with only one partner, who only has sex with you.
Don’t Miss: How Long To Get Results For Chlamydia Test
Wait I Can Get Gonorrhea In My Throat
Yes, and also in your butt. You can also get chlamydia in your throat and butt, but throat chlamydia just doesnt have the same ring to it. The CDC has a helpful list of all the places on your body you might get an initial infection of various STIs, but the big takeaway is simple: Even people who always use condoms can get STIs, pretty much every STI can be transmitted by unprotected oral sex, and STIs can show symptoms on parts of your body you wouldnt expect.
Why is this important? Well, a lot of people assume STIs are grossthanks, societyand part of that stigma is a misconception that all STIs produce gnarly and horrific symptoms. In reality, this is pretty rare! Herpes, for instance, is asymptomatic in almost everyone who has it, and gonorrhea and chlamydia can also infiltrate your bodys defenses without making much fuss. They can even go away on their own, but the problem is that they dont always do so.
That means that you should not wait for an outbreak of oozing sores before getting tested for STIs. If youre sexually activeand were talking about any kind of sexyou need to get tested two to three times a year.
When Should I See My Healthcare Provider
When it comes to chlamydia, its a good idea to be proactive. Speak with your healthcare provider about your risks of infection. Make a plan to get screened regularly for STIs based on your providers recommendations for how often you should be tested. Make an appointment with your healthcare provider if your partner tests positive for chlamydia or if you notice any signs or symptoms that you may be infected.
You May Like: How Do You Treat Chlamydia And Gonorrhea
Complications From Chlamydia And Gonorrhea
Because these two diseases often have no symptoms, some people go untreated.
Even with those who have symptoms, stigma, access, or other reasons get in the way of getting medical attention.
Not receiving prompt and proper treatment can create serious health problems.
For women, chlamydia and gonorrhea that goes untreated can spread through your uterus to your fallopian tubes.
Fallopian tubes connect the ovaries to the uterus and transport fertilized eggs during pregnancy. If untreated bacteria that cause gonorrhea and chlamydia spread to this area, the result is pelvic inflammatory disease , affecting around 5% of women in the US.
Pelvic inflammatory disease, similar to chlamydia and gonorrhea, can have no symptoms or just some pelvic or abdominal pain initially.
Unfortunately, PID can do permanent damage to a womenâs reproductive system, including:
For men, gonorrhea and chlamydia can also lead to serious health problems.
It is uncommon for either to cause infertility in men, but sometimes the infection can spread past the penis causing fever or pain.
One difference is that chlamydia can also spread to the urethra, causing Non-Gonococcal urethritis, which is an infection of the tube that carries urine resulting in inflammation, pain, and fever.
This cannot be caused by the bacteria that causes gonorrhea. However, for both diseases, it is possible for either to cause:
For both women and men, chlamydia and gonorrhea can develop into a form of arthritis:
Almost Everyone Needs Tested
If youre sexually active and not in a long-term relationship, you should be tested for STDs on a regular basis. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers this general testing guide:
- Everyone 13 to 64: At least once for HIV.
- Sexually active women under 25: Yearly for chlamydia and gonorrhea.
- All pregnant women: Tested for syphilis, HIV and hepatitis B
- All women in at-risk pregnancies: Tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea.
- Those having unprotected sex or sharing needles: Yearly for HIV.
Also, sexually active bisexual or gay men should get frequent tests for HIV, up to every 3-6 months, and yearly tests for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea.
Recommended Reading: Can You Order Chlamydia Treatment Online
Symptoms Of Gonorrhea And Chlamydia
Sometimes someone with gonorrhea or chlamydia does not show any symptoms.
In fact, 75% of women and 50% of men with chlamydia exhibit no symptoms.
It is unclear how common it is with gonorrhea, but some estimates are that the majority of men and women show no symptoms.
Even with no symptoms, it is still possible to transmit the disease and damage the reproductive system. The key signs of gonorrhea and chlamydia can appear within one to three weeks after having sex with a partner with the STD.
There are some differences in how both STDâs present in men vs women, but in general the most common reported symptoms in both men and women are:
- Discharge â For chlamydia, women may have vaginal discharge that has a strong odor or is yellowish, and men may have cloudy or clear discharge around the tip of the penis. For Gonorrhea, women and men may have discharge from the vagina or penis that is green, yellow, or white.
- Burning sensation while urinating â Also called dysuria, this symptom is common with other STDs and is an important sign to get tested.
- Painful, burning sensations in infected area â For both STDs, this is most common inside the vagina for women and the penal opening for men. Additionally, throat infections from oral sex are common and can result in swollen glands in the throat.
Women can also have painful periods, bleeding between periods, pain during sex, abdominal pain, or a fever.
- Rectal pain
How Do You Get Gonorrhea
First, is important to note that as sexual characteristics are different, male or female chances of getting infected are different as well.
In both sex gonorrhea can affect parts of the body as the urethra, rectum or throat, but in females, gonorrhea can also infect the cervix.
Gonorrhea is then transmitted during sexual activities with an infected person, including vaginal, oral, and anal sex.
As for the characteristics of the genital organs, during sexual intercourse, gonorrhea is more likely to be transmitted from men to women than from women to men.
In summary, after just one episode of sex, women are likely to get infected by 60 to 90%, while men can have a risk to catch infection from women by 20%, increasing to 60% to 80% after four or more intercourse exposures.
This huge difference may be related to the greater exposed area of genital surfaces in women, as it was previously explained, as well as being more exposed to trauma and tissue fractions.
In a more detailed manner, gonorrhea can be acquired through different type of activities, including sexual and non-sexual ones:
Read Also: Do Chlamydia Symptoms Appear Right Away
Urine Testing Vs Bacterial Culture
Urine testing is currently primarily used to detect bacterial STDs. Chlamydia and gonorrhea urine tests are widely available. Trichomoniasis urine tests are also available, but they are less common.
The gold standard for diagnosing bacterial STDs, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, used to be bacterial culture. That involved attempting to grow bacteria out of samples that were taken directly from the cervix or urethra.
These days, bacterial DNA testing is considered a better option. It works differently than bacterial culture. Instead of trying to grow bacteria, these tests just look for bacterial DNA. This can be done using a process called ligase chain reaction or with other DNA amplification techniques.
These types of testing are sensitive to even very small amounts of bacterial DNA. Even better, they do not require a live bacterial sample. As such, they can be run on urine samplesnot just urethral or cervical swabs.
For most people, the thought of a getting gonorrhea urine test or chlamydia urine test is a lot less intimidating than the thought of needing a physical exam.
Also Check: How Do You Know If A Girl Has Chlamydia
In Both Males & Females
The following complications can occur:
- Disseminated gonococcal infection : An infection causedwhen gonorrhea spreads to the blood. It can lead to arthritis, tenosynovitis , or dermatitis. DGI can be life-threatening.
- Reactive arthritis: When symptomatic or asymptomatic chlamydia is left untreated, reactive arthritis can occur in both males and females.
- Infertility: In some cases, complications of untreated gonorrhea and chlamydia can lead to infertility.
Recommended Reading: How Long Does It Take To Feel Chlamydia Symptoms
How Soon After Unprotected Sex Can I Test For Chlamydia And Gonorrhoea
You should test for chlamydia and gonorrhoea 14 days after you have had unprotected sex, unless you already have symptoms.
This is because chlamydia and gonorrhoea have an incubation period, meaning they may not show up on a test if you take it too early. To get the most accurate results you need to wait for 2 weeks after exposure to get tested.
There is a small chance that the infection may not show up on a test, and give you a negative result. Therefore, if you receive a negative test, you should repeat the test 6 weeks later to confirm your results.
How Can I Reduce My Risk Of Getting Gonorrhea
The only way to completely avoid STDs is to not have vaginal, anal, or oral sex.
If you are sexually active, the following things can lower your chances of getting gonorrhea:
- Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and does not have gonorrhea.
- Using condoms the right way every time you have sex.
You May Like: Can I Get Chlamydia Without Being Sexually Active
What Causes Gonorrhea And Chlamydia
Chlamydia and gonorrhea are sexually transmitted diseases that affect both women and men. They are transmitted by having oral, anal, or vaginal sex with a person who already has the disease.
Both STDs are caused by a bacterial infection that affects the mucous membranes, which are moist, soft tissues not covered by our outer layer of skin.
- Chlamydia is caused by the bacteria, chlamydia trachomatis, and can be found in the vagina, cervix, urethra, and rectum as well as the throat or eyes .
- Gonorrhea, also called the âclapâ or the âdripâ, is caused by the bacteria, Neisseria gonorrhoeae.
Like chlamydia, gonorrhea bacteria can grow and infect women in the cervix, uterus, or fallopian tubes and in men, in the urethra. It can also infect the anus, mouth, and throat.
The infection is spread through semen and vaginal fluids, but the transmission of the disease is not dependent on ejaculation. While the infection comes from these fluids, it can infect the eyes and throat in addition to the vagina, cervix, penis, urethra, and anus.
However, since these fluids are required to transmit the bacteria, you cannot get either STD through casual contact. For example, it is not possible to get chlamydia or gonorrhea from holding hands, hugging, sneezing, sitting on a toilet, or sharing food. It is very unlikely to get chlamydia or gonorrhea from kissing, even kissing someone with the infection in their throat.
What Are Symptoms Of An Sti
Different STIs can cause different symptoms. Sometimes STIs dont cause any symptoms at all.
Gonorrhea or chlamydia can cause:
Burning when urinating
Many times, people with an STI dont have any symptoms, so they dont realize they need treatment. This is how people can unknowingly pass an STI to someone else.
Recommended Reading: Best Medicine For Gonorrhea And Chlamydia
Here Is What You Need To Know About Chlamydia And Gonorrhea
January 20, 2022 by Elodie Takamiya
Chlamydia is the most reported sexually transmitted infection in the United States. Its relative, gonorrhea, is the second most common STI. Both are caused by bacteria and can have disastrous, long-term consequences on a womans health. This is especially the case if she doesnt receive treatment immediately. In this article, you will find useful information that will help you to be proactive with your health. Without further ado, here is what you need to know about chlamydia and gonorrhea.
Quiz: How Do I Know If I Have Gonorrhea
by CourteneyPublished on December 21, 2018Updated on August 28, 2020
If youre asking yourself, how do I know if I have gonorrhea, unfortunately, the answer may not be easy to find. Gonorrhea is one of the most common STDs in the US, with the CDC estimating 820,000 cases of gonorrhea annually. Reported cases of gonorrhea have gone up every year since 2015. Because gonorrhea is so common and can exhibit no symptoms, it can be difficult to know if you have gonorrhea. This article will address a few common questions about gonorrhea.
What is gonorrhea?
As stated above, gonorrhea is a common sexually transmitted bacterial infection. Any sexually active person can be infected with gonorrhea. In the US, the CDC reports that nearly 70% of annual cases are among young people ages 15 to 24.
Gonorrhea is spread through sexual contact, including vaginal, anal and oral sex. Ejaculation does not have to occur for gonorrhea to be transmitted or acquired. Gonorrhea can also be passed to babies during vaginal delivery childbirth.
While safer sex practices, such as condom use, can reduce your risk of contracting or passing gonorrhea to a partner, the best way to protect yourself against gonorrhea is to know your status by getting tested and make sure your partners have been recently tested and are STD free.
How do I know if I have gonorrhea symptoms?
Gonorrhea symptoms include:
- Bleeding between menstrual cycles
- Yellowish or greenish discharge from the vagina or penis