Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that is transmitted through sexual contact. It is one of the most common STIs in Ireland, with the number of cases rising sharply (it currently affects approximately 1 in 20 sexually active women, and 1 in 12 women aged 20). This rapid increase is partly due to the fact that many people with chlamydia don’t display any symptoms (50% of men, and 70% of women). However, if left untreated in men, chlamydia can lead to inflammation of the urethra, which in turn can cause pain, fever and infertility.
Gonorrhoea is another common STI in Ireland, although less common than chlamydia. Similarly to chlamydia, it can lead to infertility if left untreated and is often symptomless – up to 50% of women and 10% of men will display no symptoms. Untreated gonorrhoea can cause men to develop infections in the testicles and prostate gland.
Chlamydia and gonorrhoea are both usually transmitted through having unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex. However, they can also be passed by sharing sex toys, or genital contact. HIV is usually transmitted through unprotected vaginal or anal sex but can also be passed on through unprotected oral sex, sharing sex toys, sharing infected needles and other injecting material.