25.3.2021

How much do you know about the most common STIs? Introducing chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis!

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Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are very common. All kinds of sexually active people can get an STI. In Finland an estimated 30 000 people get an STI every year. Yet, there is a lot of unnecessary shame associated with STIs. Now you have the chance to learn something new about three common STIs: Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis!

STIs can be transmitted through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex. To protect yourself against the STIs, you should use a condom during vaginal, anal or oral sex. Also plenty of lubricant should be used when having anal sex. To prevent STIs when pleasuring vulva or penis by mouth, you should use dental dams. Read more about STI prevention here >>

The STIs are usually caused by a bacteria or a virus.  Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis are caused by a bacteria. Without a treatment chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis can lead to some severe health problems. The good news is that getting tested is easy and there is an effective treatment for those three STIs.

Five facts about chlamydia

  • The most common STI in Finland!
  • Can transmit through unprotected vaginal or anal intercourse or oral sex. Infection in the eye is also possible. You can also get chlamydia if you come into contact with infected semen or vaginal fluid, like using the same sex toy with a partner at the time having sex.
  • In most of the cases chlamydia is asymptomatic.
  • Testing can be as simple as peeing in a cup. The test can be taken from the urethra, vagina, cervix, anus or eye, depending on what kind of sex you have had!
  • The treatment for chlamydia is antibiotics. If you get diagnosed with an STI, you need to tell your sexual partners to get tested too.

What are the symptoms of chlamydia?

Symptoms can include unusual discharge from the vagina, burning when urinating, feeling the need to urinate more often than usual, grey discharge from the urethra, lower stomach or lower back pain and testicle pain. If a person gets chlamydia in their eye, it may cause an eye infection.

The symptoms of chlamydia typically appear within 10 to 14 days from the infection.

When and how should I get tested? Read more about chlamydia from here!

Five facts about gonorrhea

  • Gonorrhoea can spread through unprotected vaginal or anal intercourse or oral sex. Infection in the eye is also possible.
  • It is also possible to transmit gonorrhea from throat while kissing or using spit as a lubrication for sex.
  • Sometimes gonorrhea shows no symptoms.
  • The test can be taken from different places depending on what kind of sex you have had: urine sample/urethra, vagina, cervix, anus or eye.
  • The treatment for gonorrhea is antibiotics.

What are the symptoms of gonorrhea?

Symptoms can include burning when urinating, the need to urinate more often than usual, yellow discharge from the urethra, more vaginal discharge than usual and lower stomach pain or painful erection.

The symptoms appear within 2 to 14 days from getting infected.

When and how should I get tested? Read more about gonorrhea from here!

Five facts about syphilis

  • Syphilis can transmit through unprotected vaginal or anal sex or oral sex.
  • The symptoms of syphilis appear in three phases.
  • Syphilis test is taken from the blood.
  • Syphilis can cause permanent damage if you don’t get treated. It can be cured with antibiotic injections.
  • If left untreated the syphilis infection can be transmitted approximately for two years.

What are the symptoms of syphilis?

The symptoms of syphilis appear in three phases:

1st phase: It can include a sore with hard edges in the genitalia, mouth or anus or enlarged lymph nodes. The initial symptoms of syphilis appear within 3 to 6 weeks from getting infected, but sometimes no symptoms appear.

2nd phase: The symptoms of the second phase appear 2 to 4 months from the end of the first phase. Symptoms in the second phase include fever, enlarged lymph nodes, headache, nausea and various skin symptoms. In this phase of infection it can be transmitted from infected sores without any sexual contact.

Even if syphilis is not treated, all symptoms disappear within six months. After that, the syphilis becomes latent which means that the infection still exists, but it does not show any symptoms.

3rd phase: Untreated syphilis infection may develop into tertiary syphilis, which may appear several years after the original infection. The infection and symptoms may appear all over the body: skin, central nervous system or heart.

When and how should I get tested? Read more about syphilis from here!

Where to get STI tested?

Testing and treatment of most STIs is free of charge in public health care in Finland.

STI testing is available at:

  • Health centres (free of charge)
  • Venereal disease outpatient clinics (free of charge)
  • Finnish Student Health Service (free of charge), www.yths.fi
  • Private clinics (subject to a charge) and within occupational health care