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by James Thomas, Saturday, 06 January 2018 | Categories: Sexual Health

Staying Safe in the Bedroom

Christmas and New Year is a time for revelry and fun, with plenty of food and drink... as well as more private activities. The downside to the increased sexual activity at this time of the year is the corresponding rise in the number of sexually transmitted infections, which then have to be treated in the first few months of the New Year. We are already starting to see an uptick in patients presenting with symptoms of an STI. The most common bacterial sexually transmitted infection encountered by us is chlamydia trachomatis.

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is a potentially serious infection that can result in infertility in women, as well as the potentially lethal condition known as ectopic pregnancy, if it is not detected and treated as soon as possible.

Chlamydia will normally take around 14 days to appear in a test result but it can produce a positive result earlier. Any negative result prior to 14 days will need to be repeated at the appropriate juncture.

Testing

Not everyone who contracts the chlamydia infection will experience obvious symptoms, and screening tests can be done from self taken vaginal swabs or urine samples. 

If a woman is experiencing urinary symptoms then it is probably a better idea to test for chlamydia with a urine sample, rather than a vaginal swab. Urine samples need to be collected at least two hours after the last time urine was passed to ensure an accurate result. 

Sexually active people below the age of 25 should be tested once a year for the infection or every time they acquire a new sexual partner, or in the event of experiencing any symptoms such as pain during urination, painful sex, abdominal pain, or abnormal discharges or bleeding from the vagina. The rest of us need to be tested when we change sexual partner or experience symptoms.

Treatment

The good news is that chlamydia can be effectively treated either with a single one gram dose of azithromycin or a twice daily seven day 100 mg course of doxycycline. Both of these treatments come with their own advantages and disadvantages.

Doxycycline should not be used in pregnancy.

Anyone who receives any form of treatment should make sure they are tested again from 6 weeks after treatment commenced, in order to make sure the infection has been cured and to avoid the possibility of false results. 

All recent partners from within the last three months should also be given treatment irrespective of their own chlamydia test results. You and your current partners should be simultaneously treated with antibiotics, while abstaining from sex during treatment, even with a condom. 

Long-term complications from a chlamydia infection are much more likely in people who contract the infection numerous times, so anyone who is infected should take additional precautions in the future, in order to make sure that it does not happen again. The use of condoms is vital, and is the only method to protect against infection – but it is not 100% effective and regular screening is still recommended.





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