STI: Three ‘must-know’ complications of sexually transmitted infections – expert

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Doctor Earim Chaudry revealed the three “must-know” health complications that can develop from an STI in women. The first is infertility and pelvic inflammatory disease. “If left untreated, around 10-15 percent of women with chlamydia will develop pelvic inflammatory disease (PID),” Doctor Chaudry warned. PID “can lead to infertility and permanent damage of reproductive organs” as the Fallopian tubes, for example, become scarred.

Some women with PID may experience frequent lower abdomen pain, or pain during intercourse.

PID could also lead to painful or difficulty urinating, irregular menstrual periods, and abnormal vaginal discharge alongside a fever.

Doctor Chaudry warned that women with chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis or herpes “have a higher risk of developing cervical cancer”.

Possible symptoms of cervical cancer might include:

  • Pelvic pain
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Vaginal bleeding after intercourse, between periods, or after the menopause
  • Watery, bloody discharge with a foul odour.

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The NHS assured that most STI infections “can be cured”; a sexual health or genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic that specialises in sexual health can provide free treatment.

When visiting a sexual health clinic be prepared to answer some questions about your sex life.

Questions the doctor or nurse may ask could include:

  • When you last had sex
  • Whether you’ve had unprotected sex
  • Whether you have any symptoms
  • Why you think you might have an infection.

Testing for an STI might involve a blood or urine sample, a swab of the urethra, or an examination of the genitals.

Some clinics offer results and treatment on the same day, for others it may take up to two weeks.

“If possible, tell your sexual partner and any ex-partners so they can get tested and treated as well,” the NHS stated.

“If you don’t want to do this, the clinic can usually do it for you – it’s called partner notification and the clinic won’t reveal who you are.”

How to protect yourself from STIs

The best preventative measure against STIs is to always wear a condom every time you have sex.

“Bear in mind that having had an STI once doesn’t make you immune to it – you can get the same infection again,” the health body added.

Oral sex can also lead to STIs, such as gonorrhoea, genital herpes, syphilis, and HPV.

If you are concerned about your sexual health, do visit your local GUM or sexual health clinic.

Doctor Earim Chaudry is the medical director at Manual, a men’s health platform that also provided the research on the most common STIs for women in England.

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