The new report from Public Health England shows that gonorrhoea infections have risen by 26% and chlamydia by 5% since 2018. The rise has prompted health officials to warn people to practise safe sex using condoms and to get tested if needed.
Gonorrhoea and chlamydia can both be passed easily between people though vaginal, oral and anal sex or sharing vibrators or sex toys that have not been washed.
Both infections can cause an unusual vaginal discharge, pain in the testicles and pain when weeing (for men and women). However, many people don’t have any symptoms at all and don’t realise they have an infection.
Possible complications in pregnancy
Gonorrhoea and chlamydia can spread to the reproductive organs, making it more difficult to get pregnant for men and women.
They can also be passed from a pregnant woman and her baby, and can cause complications such as miscarriage, premature birth and eye infections in the baby.
Why it’s important to get tested
Every pregnant woman is offered routine blood tests as part of their antenatal care. These include tests for STIs, such as HIV and syphilis. But you will not be offered routine tests for all STIs, including gonorrhoea and chlamydia.
If you are younger than 25 years old, you will be given details of your local National Chlamydia Screening Programme at your booking appointment.
Some STIs have no symptoms, which means that many people who have an STI will not know they are infected and can pass it on to any sexual partners.
The best time to get tested and treated is before you get pregnant. But if there is any reason to think that you or your partner have an STI you can get a check-up at any time during pregnancy.
Kate Marsh, Tommy’s midwife says:
“We understand that there is still some stigma about sexually transmitted infections. But most STIs can be treated effectively, so getting tested is a great way to reduce the risk of potential complications in pregnancy and give you some peace of mind.
“If you find out that you have an STI, tell your GP, pharmacist or clinic that you are trying to get pregnant or that you are pregnant. They will make sure you get the right treatment and advise you on when the infection will clear.
“Remember that even if you have no STIs when you get pregnant, it’s still advised to practice safe sex through your pregnancy.”
Where you can get tested
The best places to go are a genito-urinary medicine (GUM) clinic, sexual health clinic, your GP or a young people’s clinic.
All information given will be kept confidential, and the tests are only done with your permission .You can find details of local GUM clinics by contacting the Sexual Health Line on 0300 123 7123 or the Family Planning Association.
Many sexual health clinics now offer online testing for STIs which means people can order tests on their websites, take them at home and then send them off for the results which come in the post or via text.