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Sexually transmitted diseases have in common that they can be transmitted through vaginal, anal or oral sex. They do not always cause symptoms that lead to the detection of the infection. You can thus pass the infection on to others without knowing that you are infected yourself. Therefore, it is essential to get tested regularly.

What symptoms are common?

Chlamydia and gonorrhea are caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae, respectively. Infection with these often gives no symptoms. If you get symptoms, this can be altered discharge, slight bleeding between periods, painful and frequent urination or abdominal pain. In a small number of those who are not treated, the infection can lead to a more extensive pelvic infection. This can cause the fallopian tubes to become blocked, causing problems with getting pregnant.

Genital warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) virus and are small growths that can be found on the skin and mucous membranes of the genitals and around the rectal opening. They are harmless and usually do not cause symptoms but can be disfiguring and sometimes cause discomfort and itching.

Herpes in the abdomen is caused by the herpes simplex virus, type 1 or 2. Herpes can cause painful sores with blisters in the genital area. Many people may have the virus and thus infect others without having symptoms.

How is the examination?

The doctor performs a regular gynaecological examination by looking at the external genitalia and examining the vagina and cervix using a speculum. Chlamydia and gonorrhea can be detected by taking a swab (similar to long, thin "Q-tips") from the cervix. You will then receive an answer from the laboratory within a couple of weeks.

Genital warts may be recognisable due to their typical appearance. If warts have disappeared, however, you can not "test" for whether it was what you had. Herpes sores also often have a typical appearance that can give strong suspicion of the diagnosis, but one takes a sample from the wound that can detect and confirm the herpes virus.

In the case of other sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis, hepatitis and HIV, these are detected by a blood test.

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