Different STIs and how to treat them by Nurse Angela

Unusual discharge from the penis, vagina or anus? Pain or burning during urination? Sores, blisters, ulcers, warts or rashes in the genital area? Pain in the scrotum or testicles? Lumps and bumps on the genitals? Having any of the mentioned signs and symptoms could mean that you have a Sexually Transmitted Infection. Nurse Angela shares how you can identify them.

Different STIs and how to treat them


Syphilis is a bacterial infection usually spread by sexual contact. The disease starts as a painless sore — typically on your genitals, rectum or mouth. Syphilis spreads from person to person via skin or mucous membrane contact with these sores.

After the initial infection, the syphilis bacteria can remain inactive (dormant) in your body for decades before becoming active again. Early syphilis can be cured, sometimes with a single shot (injection) of penicillin. Without treatment, syphilis can severely damage your heart, brain or other organs, and can be life-threatening.


The preferred treatment at all stages is penicillin, an antibiotic medication that can kill the organism that causes syphilis. If you’re allergic to penicillin, your doctor may suggest another antibiotic.


Gonorrhoea is an infection caused by a sexually transmitted bacterium that infects both males and females. Gonorrhoea most often affects the urethra, rectum or throat. In females, gonorrhoea can also infect the cervix. Symptoms include painful urination and abnormal discharge from the penis or vagina. Men may experience testicular pain and women may experience pain in the lower stomach.

Gonorrhoea is commonly spread during vaginal, oral or anal sex. But babies of infected mothers can also be infected during childbirth. In babies, gonorrhoea most commonly affects the eyes.


Adults with gonorrhoea are treated with antibiotics. Due to emerging strains of drug-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that uncomplicated gonorrhoea be treated with other more effective antibiotics that can treat drug-resistant strains of gonorrhoea


Chlamydia  trachomatis  is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by bacteria. You might not know you have chlamydia because you may not experience signs or symptoms, but you can still infect others through sexual contact.

Visible symptoms may include genital pain and discharge from the vagina or penis.

Chlamydia trachomatis mostly affects young women, but it can also occur in men. It’s not difficult to treat, but if left untreated it can lead to more-serious health problems.


Chlamydia trachomatis is treated with antibiotics. You might receive a one-time dose, or you might need to take the medication daily or multiple times a day for five to 10 days.

In most cases, the infection resolves within one to two weeks. During that time, you should abstain from sex. Your sexual partner also needs treatment even if they have no signs or symptoms. Otherwise, the infection can be passed back and forth between sexual partners.

Having chlamydia or having been treated for it in the past doesn’t prevent you from getting it again.

Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted infection caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). Sexual contact is the primary way that the virus spreads. After the initial infection, the virus lies dormant in your body and can reactivate several times a year.

Genital herpes can cause pain, itching and sores in your genital area. But you may also have no signs or symptoms. If infected, you can be contagious even if you have no visible sores.


There’s no cure for genital herpes, but medications can ease symptoms and reduce the risk of infecting others. Condoms can also help prevent the spread of a genital herpes infection.

Treatment with prescription antiviral medications may:

  • Help sores heal sooner during an initial outbreak
  • Lessen the severity and duration of symptoms in recurrent outbreaks
  • Reduce the frequency of recurrence
  • Minimize the chance of transmitting the herpes virus to another

Diagnosis of STIs

When visiting the clinic, the healthcare professional (either a nurse or doctor) will perform a thorough clinical assessment which will include a physical examination and a-genital examination. Additionally your healthcare provider will ask about your sexual history in order to make a diagnosis, Questions will include the following

  1. Your symptoms
  2. Your recent sexual history
  3. Sexual orientation
  4. Type of sexual activity
  5. Recent antibiotic history

All these questions will assist your health care provider in diagnosing you correctly and giving you correct medication for your STI. The sooner you get tested, the easier it will be to treat the infection. If you’re sexually active, it’s important to go for STI testing regularly. If you have any questions for Nurse Angela, you can send me a private message. However, talking to nurse Angela is not a consultation, but rather a conversation to determine if you need to go to the clinic or doctor based on your symptoms.

If you or a friend need someone to talk to, you can speak to me for advice or help here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).