Chlamydia vs Gonorrhea

Diseases of the Genitourinary System

Sexually transmitted infections are a common but often misunderstood part of our modern world. They cause countless cases of infertility, blindness, and other complications. Many sexually transmitted infections produce similar symptoms, but it is important to understand that they are in fact distinct from one another. A good example of this confusion often pops up when distinguishing chlamydia and gonorrhea from each other.

The Symptoms Of Chlamydia

Like many STIs, chlamydia is often asymptomatic, especially in women. However, for those who suffer from symptoms, they typically present themselves in the form of pain, swelling, and discharge from the genital area. Adults suffering from chlamydia may find the symptoms unpleasant, but infants with chlamydia are often fighting for their lives.

Infants suffering from chlamydia often experience spontaneous abortion, pneumonia, and premature birth. Adults may also find themselves dealing with long-term consequences. While these symptoms do not always present themselves, it is considerably common for people with this disorder to suffer from long-term effects.

The Symptoms Of Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea generally produces painful urination and discharge in men and to a lesser extent in women. This often leads many women to falsely believe that they are perfectly healthy. In reality, gonorrhea is one of the most common causes of infertility for women in the world. A peculiar issue sometimes seen in gonorrhea is an allergic reaction. Some people infected with the bacteria responsible for gonorrhea will exhibit a negative response to the mere presence of the microflora. There are even recorded cases of gonorrhea patients developing arthritis from the infection.

The Similar And Often Co-Morbid Diseases

Gonorrhea and chlamydia are often quite similar to one another and it isn't unheard of for patients to have both infections concurrently. Although Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the bacteria behind gonococcal infections, and Chlamydia trachomatis, the source of chlamydia infections, are separate species, they require very similar environments in order to survive. The conditions found in the human genitalia give them exactly what they need in order to reproduce and maintain a host. Likewise, the two species are generally unable to survive for long periods of time outside of the human body. Despite these similarities, there are obvious differences between the two that must be understood.

Learning The Difference Between The Two

One of the most obvious differences between these two diseases is a subtle difference in symptoms. In men, chlamydia is known to cause genital swelling but this is not present in men infected with gonorrhea. Gonorrhea generally presents itself at a much more rapid pace than is typically found in people with chlamydia. Testing for the disease often involves searching for genetic differences between them. These genes account for many of the differences observed.

How The Two Diseases Are Treated

The treatments for both chlamydia and gonorrhea tend to involve similar sorts of drugs. Since both are bacterial infections, antibiotics are prescribed in other to fight the infections. Some of the antibiotics used to treat chlamydia are potentially toxic to infants, so more generic antibiotics such as amoxicillin are often prescribed for pregnant women. After treatment, both gonorrhea and chlamydia patients will need to be tested for the disease again following 3 months. This is necessary in order to make sure that the infection is in fact thoroughly extinguished.

Current STI Trends

In recent years, America and other developed countries have seen an uptick in cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea. Much of this increase is due to increasingly lax attitudes towards sexually transmitted infections and the rise of online dating apps. Doctors and healthcare experts are currently seeking ways to improve the outlook for gonorrhea and chlamydia infections. Better sex education programs are being proposed as a way to fight back against these devastating diseases.

As more cases of these diseases are reported, "superbug" strains have popped up with the potential to resist many and sometimes all known antibiotics are ineffective against these new strains. The need for new antibiotics is difficult to fulfill because there is little funding for new antibiotics research. Under these conditions, the people most likely to be safe from chlamydia and gonorrhea are those who practice safe sex or abstinence.

Last Reviewed:
June 13, 2017
Last Updated:
October 09, 2017