Bacterial sexually transmitted infections are caused by bacteria entering the body via skin on skin contact or bodily fluids. Bacteria are living cells that cause infection, and in the case of bacterial STDs, the bacteria is entering your body, not a virus. Bacterial STIs are typically easily treated with antibiotics that remove the infection. The antibiotics don’t prevent the STI from ever coming back, but they do typically get rid of it. When left untreated, bacterial STIs can lead to sterility and other long-term health risks.
The most common bacterial STIs are:
Chlamydia is a very common but easily treatable bacterial infection caused by the bacteria chlamydia trachomatis. It is most commonly transmitted through anal or vaginal sex, and is not typically transmitted during oral sex. Thankfully, Chlamydia can not be passed via common daily activities such as shaking hands or sitting on a public toilet seat.
Chlamydia is the most common bacterial STI in the U.S., with over 1.5 million cases of Chlamydia being reported each year. 75 perfect of women and 50 perfect of men who are diagnosed with chlamydia may never experience a single symptom. That’s why it is so important to be tested for STDs regularly. It is recommended that all sexually active women under 25 get tested for chlamydia each year, especially those who have multiple partners or new partners.
If you are diagnosed with Chlamydia, it’s important to refrain from sex until you have been treated and cured. You partner(s) should also be tested to avoid further spreading.
Commonly referred to as “the clap,” gonorrhea is a common bacterial infection caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It can be transmitted during vaginal, anal, or oral sex, but is not passed via shaking hands or public toilet seats, as is a common misconception. Gonorrohea most often occurs in people who have multiple sex partners. Using latex condoms to reduce skin contact reduces the risk of gonorrhea.
According to the CDC, there are nearly 700,000 new cases of gonorrhea in the U.S. each year.
Men will often show symptoms of gonorrhea, while women will not. If women do have symptoms, they are often easily mistaken for a bladder or vaginal infection.
Symptoms typically appear in men within 2-5 days of infection, and include:
- Yellowish-white penile discharge
- Burning sensation when urinating
- Urinating more frequently
- Pain or swelling in testicles
If untreated, gonorrhea can cause PID and/or infertility. Those who have gonorrhea also often have chlamydia, so it’s typical for doctors to treat both at the same time as a preventative measure.
Syphilis is a treatable bacterial sexually transmitted infection that is caused by the bacteria Treponema pallidum. It is transmitted through direct contact with a syphilis sore, called a chancre. Syphilis is often hard to notice, as symptoms may take a long time to appear or don’t appear at all.
Syphilis progresses through 4 stages: primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary (late). The early stages of syphilis are easily treated and can often be cured with penicillin. If syphilis is not diagnosed until the later stages, long-term damage may occur.
In the primary stage, a painless sore, called a chancre, appears on the genitals, in the vagina, on the cervix, lips, mouth, breasts, or anus. In the secondary stage, symptoms include body rashes that can last 2 – 6 weeks, fatigue, sore throat, weight loss, hair loss, swollen glands, headache, and muscle pains. In the later stages, it is more serious and those affected may suffer damage to the nervous system, heart, brain, or other major organs.
To learn more about bacterial STIs, visit the American Sexual Health Association’s website. And, if you suspect you may have an STI and are in need of discreet STD treatment, contact Besafemeds today to speak with a doctor or nurse practitioner.