Chlamydia and gonorrhea are arguably some of the most common, and well known, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) worldwide. As a matter of fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) refer to both of these infections as two nationally notifiable STIs [1].

Occasionally mistaken for one another, chlamydia and gonorrhea have similar symptoms and signs, and can even cause some similar side effects when left untreated. In saying that, both chlamydia and gonorrhea are individual infections, with a variety of distinct differences - each of which is worth knowing more about.

See also: Can an STI go Undetected?



What causes chlamydia and gonorrhea?


Chlamydia is caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. It’s most commonly spread through vaginal, oral, or anal sex. While this infection mostly affects young women, men and women of any age can contract chlamydia.

Gonorrhea is caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Once referred to as ‘the clap’, this infection is spread through vaginal, oral, or anal sex. Similar to chlamydia, rates of infection tend to be higher in women but both genders can be affected.


Can chlamydia be mistaken for gonorrhea?


One of the most distinct similarities between both chlamydia and gonorrhea are the symptoms. Both infections can easily go unnoticed as it’s common to experience little to no signs or symptoms. Although, when symptoms do appear, they tend to be quite similar, these include:

  • Painful urination
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Penile discharge
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Burning sensation in genitals

The most reliable way to find out more about your sexual health and whether or not you have contracted chlamydia or gonorrhea is through a reliable lab test.

See also: What are the Most Common STDs?


Do chlamydia and gonorrhea cause complications?


When chlamydia and gonorrhea have been detected, it’s possible to treat and cure both infections with the right treatment. If left untreated, both infections can cause a number of similar long-term complications, some of these include:


Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)


PID is an infection that affects one or more of the upper reproductive organs in women. This condition can lead to scarring of the fallopian tubes and possible pregnancy complications.


Epididymitis


Both chlamydia and gonorrhea infections can cause inflammation in the coiled tube located beside the testicles in men. This can cause future complications if it goes untreated.


Pregnancy complications


Chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause infections in newborns during birth. Chlamydia can cause serious eye infections and sometimes pneumonia in newborns while gonorrhea can increase the risk of the baby developing blindness.

See also: STDs and Pregnancy: How do STDs Affect Pregnancy?


Can you prevent chlamydia and gonorrhea?


As both infections are so common that almost anyone who is sexually active is at risk of contracting it, the only surefire way to prevent chlamydia and gonorrhea is by remaining abstinent.

In saying that, there are a number of steps that can be taken in order to reduce your risk, including:

  • Use protection during sexual contact
  • Regularly screen your sexual health
  • Don’t share sex toys

If you have tested positive for chlamydia or gonorrhea, don’t forget to abstain from sexual activity until you have completed treatment and all symptoms are gone.


Regular sexual health screening is one of the best steps you can take towards knowing more about your sexual health. This can be done with your doctor or from the comfort of home with an at-home lab test.

LetsGetChecked’s range of STI Tests detect some of the most common infections - this includes our Simple 2 Test which tests for chlamydia and gonorrhea. Online results will be available within 2-5 days and our dedicated medical team will be available every step of the way to answer any questions you may have regarding the process, results, or treatment.

You should consider taking a test if:

  • You become sexually active
  • You have had unprotected sex
  • You are experiencing symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection
  • You are entering into a new sexual relationship
  • You have received a notification from a previous partner that they are infected


References


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2018 STD Surveillance Report. Online: Cdc.gov