Sexually Transmitted Infection

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Sexually Transmitted Infection

Bacterial Vaginosis

This is sometimes also called BV and is an infection in the vagina caused by an imbalance in the bacteria that keep the vagina healthy. When this happens, the normal acidity of the vagina changes and some women will notice an unpleasant, strong, fishy smell and a white or grey watery discharge. Usually there won’t be any other symptoms, though the constant ‘wet’ feeling can sometimes cause some mild irritation. About half the women who have bacterial vaginosis have no symptoms at all and usually do not need any treatment.

Bacterial vaginosis can increase the chance of a uterine infection if surgery, including a termination of pregnancy, is performed. If a woman is pregnant and has bacterial vaginosis, it is very important for her to be treated even if she has no symptoms. Having this condition during pregnancy can cause premature birth of the baby.

Bacterial vaginosis is not considered to be a sexually transmitted infection and male sexual partners do not need to be treated.


Usually four antibiotic tablets taken at once, or in more stubborn cases, a week long course of antibiotic tablets, prescribed by a doctor. You will need to avoid alcohol while you are being treated as it can cause severe nausea or vomiting when combined with some of the treatments. There is also a more expensive option of using a prescription vaginal antibiotic cream.

Aci-jel is an acidic jelly for the vagina, which is available from chemists without a prescription. It can be used to correct the acid balance of the vagina. Some women find it useful in treating mild cases of bacterial vaginosis and some use it regularly to try and stop the symptoms from recurring.

A new product called RepHresh is available from a chemist without a prescription and works in a similar fashion.

Chlamydia is a common, sexually transmitted disease.

How do you get it?

Chlamydia is infectious and is caught by having sex with someone who has it. One in twenty men and women in their teens and early twenties carry it.

How do you know if you have it?

At least 50% of women will have no symptoms at all. Infection of your cervix (cervicitis) may cause a vaginal discharge. Chlamydia can cause infection of the lining of the uterus, and can lead to infection of the fallopian tubes. You may have low abdominal pain and cramping, a fever, and unexplained bleeding. It can cause infertility by leaving the fallopian tubes blocked or scarred. In the same way it can increase the chance of an ectopic pregnancy.

Most men will have no signs of a Chlamydia infection. If they do have signs, they may have pain or difficulty when passing urine. Men are at risk of any part of the genital area being infected, and infertility.

How do you treat it?

Chlamydia is diagnosed from a swab taken either from the uretha or the cervix, (similar to a pap smear), or from a specimen of urine. It is 100% curable by having a course of an antibiotic called Azithromycin (two tablets taken with food). Any recent sexual partners will also need treatment.

How do you prevent it?

1. Not having sex with someone who has it. The more sexual partners you have the greater the chance of infection.

2. Using condoms will provide good protection from Chlamydia and other sexually transmitted diseases.

3. Have a regular check up with your own Doctor, Family Planning Health Clinic or Sexually Transmitted Diseases clinic.

4. All patients having a termination of pregnancy will be tested for Chlamydia.

We will notify you if the test is positive and can post you a prescription for antibiotics. We can also send a prescription for your partner. It can take up to seven days for the Chlamydia to clear up. During this time you should either avoid sex completely or use a condom until both of you have finished your treatment and seven days have gone by.

This is also called thrush or candida and is a yeast which is found in the vagina, mouth and bowel. Usually it is kept in balance by a large number of other organisms that live normally in the body and on the skin, and it causes no problems. But sometimes the natural balance is upset and the amount of thrush can increase. This can be caused by pregnancy, diabetes, obesity or when a person is taking antibiotics, steroids or hormones like the pill or hormone replacement therapy.

About 10 -20% of women who have thrush have no symptoms at all. Those who do have symptoms usually have a cheesy, thick, white discharge that smells yeasty but not unpleasant. The area around the vagina is often red, itchy and sore, and sex can become very uncomfortable.

Because thrush is normally carried by both men and women, it is not thought of as a sexually transmitted infection (STI). You do not have to have sex to get it, though sexual partners of people with thrush sometimes develop symptoms as well.


The most common treatments for thrush are vaginal creams of pessaries such as Canesten, bought from the chemist without a prescription. Women who find that their symptoms don’t settle with this simple treatment should see their doctor.

The use of plain yoghurt is often promoted as a treatment for thrush. Though it is certainly cool and soothing, there is very little evidence that this treatment works, since it is unlikely that the bacteria in dairy products are able to survive long enough in the vagina to correct any imbalance.

If you are using antibiotics for any other infection, ask the doctor about also using something to help prevent thrush, especially if you have had thrush in the past.

Diflucan (Fluconazole) is an oral tablet that can treat monilia. It is one tablet and can be bought without a prescription from the chemist.

Somethings increase the chance of thrush:

  • washing with soap on the outside of the vagina (use water or sorbolene cream)
  • douching
  • nylon underwear or lycra — cotton is best.
  • Using a lubricant like KY jelly during sex helps to reduce friction.
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