There are some embarrassing conditions that we don’t like to discuss with even our closest friends.
Could you have one of these? Read on and find out. But don’t worry too much – they’re all very easy to treat
Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the UK. Latest
figures reveal that 1 in 10 young people could have Chlamydia (it’s more
common in women than men) without knowing. Left untreated, Chlamydia
can cause pelvic inflammatory disease and even infertility.
Symptoms: Mild lower stomach pain and a change in vaginal
discharge. BUT Chlamydia often has no symptoms at all which is why it
can go undetected for years.
How do I know if I’ve got it? See your GP, practise nurse or visit a clinic. To find your nearest go to www.fpa.org.uk.
A new ‘while you wait’ Chlamydia test called the Chlamydia Rapid Test
has recently been introduced with great results. The test is easy and
painless ( it involves a simple swab) and provides results within 30
minutes, which means treatment can be started immediately.
Treatment: A course of antibiotics will get rid of the infection. You should be prescribed a drug called doxycycline or azithromycin.
Bacterial Vaginosis is NOT a sexually transmitted disease, but a very common vaginal
infection that affects women of childbearing age. Around 1 in 10 women
will get BV at some time in their life. It’s caused by an imbalance of
bacteria in the vagina and has nothing to do with personal hygiene.
Symptoms: A white-grey vaginal discharge with a fishy smell. The discharge is often worse after a period or after sex.
How do I know if I’ve got it? Bacterial Vaginosis can be
diagnosed via a simple swab test. Pregnant women who develop BV are at
risk of developing complications, so it’s important to get this checked
Treatment: The infection may clear up without medication but a course of antibiotics called metronidazole is usually advised.
Around 1 in 2 women will get thrush, which is sometimes known as
Candida. The infection is caused by a yeast called Candida that lives in
It is NOT a sexually transmitted infection – you can get thrush without
ever having sex. But penetrative sex can sometimes play a part in you
developing it. (Semen can change the acidity of the vagina and therefore
lead to thrush). Other causes include antibiotics, pregnancy, perfumed
bubble baths and not changing tampons or sanitary towels regularly
Symptoms: a white discharge which smells ‘yeasty’. The genital
area may be swollen and red and you could have itching and burning
sensations. How do I know if I’ve got it? You can buy
self-diagnosis thrush tests and treatments at a chemist, but they aren’t
as reliable as a test carried out at a clinic or by your GP. Thrush is
diagnosed with a swab or sample of mucus taken from your vagina.
Treatment: You will be given anti-fungal drugs, either as
pessaries, creams or capsules. Although you can buy these at the
chemist, it could be cheaper to get them on prescription. If you keep
getting thrush (four or more times a year is called ‘recurrent thrush’)
your doctor may prescribe long-acting pessaries.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) happens when bacteria (germs) get into your internal reproductive
organs. Thousands of women in the UK are diagnosed with PID every year
but many more could have it and not even know because the symptoms are
often vague. If left untreated, PID can cause serious complications such
Symptoms: pain in the lower stomach, lower back pain, bleeding
between periods or after sex, period pain, pain during ovulation,
burning pain when urinating and an abnormal vaginal discharge.
How do I know if I’ve got it? Unfortunately there is no simple
test to diagnose Pelvic Inflammatory Disease. Most cases are diagnosed
by symptoms and an internal examination. Sometimes blood tests and
ultrasound scans are used too.
Treatment: You’ll be given a course, or an injection, of two or
more antibiotics. You’ll be told to avoid sex and get lots of rest until
the treatment is completed. Your partner should also be tested and
treated to prevent re-infection.
Trichomoniasis is another very common sexually transmitted infection. Every year more
than 1 million people in the UK are diagnosed with ‘Trich’. The best way
to avoid it is to practise safe sex.
Symptoms: A frothy, yellow green vaginal discharge and odor,
vaginal itching, swelling of the labia and painful sex. Many symptoms
are mild and similar to thrush, which can cause confusion and a wrong
How do I know if I’ve got it? A simple swab test will reveal if you have trichomoniasis.
Treatment: You’ll be given a short course of antibiotics,
(usually metronidazole) lasting one to seven days. You should also avoid
sex until your symptoms have gone.
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Cystitis is a bladder infection that affects more women than men. Most
women get cystitis at least once in their life. It is NOT a sexually
transmitted infection, but it’s more common in sexually active women.
Pregnant women and women going through the menopause are also prone.
Symptoms: a sharp pain when passing urine, back ache, lower stomach pain and feeling unwell, occasionally blood in the urine.
How do I know if I’ve got it? The symptoms are usually very
obvious. But see your GP if this is the first time you’ve had cystitis,
if it doesn’t improve after 24 hours or you seem to be getting cystitis
Treatment: Drink lots of water (at least half a pint every 20
minutes for the first three hours). This will make the urine less acidic
and therefore less painful. If the infection is bacterial you may also
be prescribed antibiotics.
Don’t forget: To find a sexual health clinic near you, go to www.fpa.org.uk