Singapore's most commonly diagnosed STIs

In 2010, these were the five most commonly-diagnosed sexually transmitted infections (STI):

Chlamydia

What: A bacterial infection that can be transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse.

Symptoms: Burning sensation when urinating; abnormal vaginal/penile discharge; pain in the back or lower abdominal area; painful sexual intercourse (in women); bleeding after sex. However, half of those infected may not experience any symptoms.

Complications: It can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women, which can result in sterility, as well as ectopic pregnancy and chronic pelvic pain. If untreated, chlamydia infections can cause serious damage to the reproductive organs.

Treatment: Antibiotics

Gonorrhoea

What: A bacterial infection that is transmissable through unprotected sexual intercourse.

Symptoms: There are patients who will not experience any symptoms. However, some will experience pain or a burning sensation when urinating, or abnormal vaginal/penile discharge. Patients may also experience itching, pain or general discomfort in their genitals.

Complications: Gonorrhoea can cause PID and infertility in women. In men, it can cause a painful condition of the ducts attached to the testicles, resulting in infertility. It can also result in ectopic pregnancy and chronic pelvic pain. Gonorrhea can also spread to the blood or joints.

Treatment: Antibiotics

Herpes (Genital)

What: A contagious viral infection caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV) that results in painful blisters and sores around the genitals. It is usually caused by the Herpes Simplex 2 strain of the virus which is usually spread through unprotected sexual intercourse.

Symptoms: Itchiness and pain; sores around the genitals that may ooze blood or liquid. Urination may be painful because of the sores.

Complications: Herpes infection can spread, causing inflammation of the bladder, rectum or even of the membranes and fluid surrounding one's brain and spinal cord.

Treatment: Oral anti-viral medication can speed up healing. However, the virus remains in the body throughout one's lifetime, and may flare up anytime due to stress or hormone changes.

Genital warts

What: Genital warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) which is transmitted during sexual intercourse.

Symptoms: Most patients will not experience any signs or symtpoms. They may have small warts that are painless and go undetected. Some patients find pink growths resembling cauliflowers, or flesh-coloured bumps on the genitals, that may cause pain, itching and a burning sensation.

Complications: If left untreated, some of these warts can progress to cervical cancer. In pregnant women, the warts could enlarge, making urination difficult.

Treatment: Doctors may prescribe topical creams to apply on the affected areas. Cryotherapy, laser treatments or other surgical methods may sometimes be required.

Non-gonococcal urethritis

What: It is an infection of the urinary tract that is not caused by gonorrhoea, but may be caused by other viruses or bacteria.

Symptoms: Pain or burning sensation when urinating; itchiness, abnormal discharge.

Complications: If left untreated, the infection may worsen and cause infertility.

Treatment: Antibiotics

Sources: Mayo Clinic, National Skin Centre, Health Promotion Board

ayxhy@sph.com.sg

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