An infection caused by a germ which infects the
genitals of men and women.However it can spread beyond this area. Occasionally it may
cause an eye infection.
Is it common?
It is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections and the most likely
identifiable cause of N.S.U. (Non specific urethritis) in men.
Where does it come from?
It can be very easily passed on through vaginal, anal and perhaps oral sex. Sometimes
it only takes close physical contact to spread. There is no evidence to show that it can
be passed on from toilet seats, sharing towels or cups. An infected mother can pass it on
to her babies eyes at birth. It can also be spread from genitals to eyes on the fingers.
How does it show itself?
Symptoms of infection may show up at anytime. Often this is between 1 to 3 weeks after
exposure but the majority of women and a good proportion of men will not realise they have
it. Symptoms may not emerge until a long way down the line. Tests done at a GUM clinic usually take one week before the results are
- some women may notice
|an unusual vaginal discharge
|pain when urinating
However these symptoms are more commonly caused by other conditions.
- some men may notice
|a discharge from the tip of the penis
|pain when urinating
|swelling of the testicles
Can it do much damage?
It can usually be treated very effectively with antibiotics
and cured completely. It is important that further tests are done after treatment to see
that the infection has cleared. Without proper treatment it can cause long term
complications for both men and women one of which could include infertility. Research from
a large study in Scandanavia published early 2001 pointed towards a possible link with
cervical cancer and some types of chlamydia. This has not been properly established and
more investigations are needed.
Can it be prevented?
Like most other sexually transmitted infections a proper and consistent use of condoms
(including flavoured ones for oral sex) will reduce the chance of becoming infected.
Because many people may be totally unaware they are infected so it is important that
current and recent sexual partners (perhaps over the past 6 months) should be offered the
chance to be tested and treated if necessary. However it is an infection that could have
been acquired a long time ago. In some cases this could be a matter of years. A health
adviser can help you to work out how best to inform partners.
It will take about 1 month for your body to heal from this infection after treatment.
During this period you would be strongly advised to avoid any sexual contact and also
until a partner has been seen.
Last updated 27-03-01