Holidaymakers heading to France this summer are being urged to pack condoms amid soaring rates of chlamydia and gonorrhoea.
Rates of the common STIs, which can both lead to infertility if left untreated, have more than tripled since 2012, according to official figures.
In a desperate attempt to stem the spread of chlamydia and gonorrhoea, French officials have launched a campaign to encourage the use of condoms.
And health officials in the Netherlands, which borders the country, have warned travellers to pack their own condoms and that holiday romances can be risky.
In a desperate attempt to stem the spread of chlamydia and gonorrhoea, French officials have launched a campaign to encourage the use of condoms
The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and public health service GGD Amsterdam were behind the calls to holidaymakers.
They went as far as warning Dutch tourists heading to France to bring their own condoms from home in a special campaign.
A GGD spokesman said: ‘In lots of countries condoms are difficult to obtain and not always reliable. Therefore, preferably take them from home.
The spokesman added: ‘Holiday romances might seem romantic but are not without danger. The circumstances are different, but the risks remain the same.’
Public Health France figures show 267,097 people were infected with chlamydia in 2016, the last full year data is available for.
In contrast, just 76,918 cases were recorded in 2012 – meaning there has been a 247 per cent jump in the space of four years.
And health officials in the Netherlands, which borders the country, have warned travellers to pack their own condoms and that holiday romances can be risky
WHAT IS CHLAMYDIA?
Chlamydia is a sexually-transmitted disease.
It stems from bacteria called chlamydia trachomatis. It is passed through contact, via vaginal, anal or oral sex.
If left untreated it can damage a woman’s fallopian tubes and cause infertility. In very rare cases it can cause infertility in men too.
What are the symptoms?
The majority of people do not feel symptoms of chlamydia. Doctors recommend getting regular STD tests (urine test or swab) to detect it.
However, some do experience some side effects.
Symptoms in women:
- Abnormal vaginal discharge
- Burning feeling when you urinate
- Pain in the eyes
- Pain in the abdomen
- Pain in the pelvis
- Pain during sex
- Vaginal bleeding
Symptoms in men:
- Discharge from the penis
- Burning feeling when you urinate
- Pain and swelling in one or both testicles (rarely)
How is it treated?
The infection is easily treated with antibiotics.
Doctors typically prescribe oral antibiotics, usually azithromycin (Zithromax) or doxycycline.
Cases of gonorrhoea have also spiked, with nearly 50,000 cases recorded in 2016, from 15,000 in 2012.
The figures, released earlier this week, prompted Public Health France to launch its own campaign to promote the use of condoms.
Titled “‘a condom can save your life’, the body hopes it will make French youngsters aware of the importance of safe sex.
Youngsters between the age of 15 and 24 have been particularly affected by the rising cases of both STIs.
Dr Florence Lot, head of an STI unit for Public Health France, fears the real number may be even greater, according to local reports.
She said: ‘The sharp increase in diagnoses of these infections in 2016 may be due to a number of factors.’
Dr Lot pointed to an underestimation of cases in 2012, screening campaigns, better tests used and the increase of the incidence of the STIs.
A recent survey showed that 48 per cent of French students do not use a condom when having sex.
Dr Lot explained that youngsters ‘have multiple changing sexual partners and do not always use a condom’.
She said: ‘This is why there are so many infections with youngsters under the age of 25.’
The amount of people with an STI is largest in the capital Paris and in the Provence region in the South of France, both popular destinations with British holidaymakers.
Around 17 million British nationals visit France every year, according to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
However, the soaring rates of chlamydia and gonorrhoea have not been mentioned on the body’s travel advice section.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF GONORRHOEA?
More than 35,000 people a year are infected with gonorrhoea in England, including record numbers of baby boomers. Only chlamydia and genital warts are more prevalent.
Figures show 78 million people worldwide contract gonorrhoea, which can often go symptomless for weeks, each year.
Symptoms usually strike within two weeks of infection – but can stay hidden for many months.
In women, symptoms of gonorrhoea can include:
- an unusual vaginal discharge, which may be thin or watery and green or yellow in colour
- pain or a burning sensation when passing urine
- pain or tenderness in the lower abdominal area (this is less common)
- bleeding between periods, heavier periods and bleeding after sex (this is less common)
In men, symptoms of gonorrhoea can include:
- an unusual discharge from the tip of the penis, which may be white, yellow or green
- pain or a burning sensation when urinating
- inflammation (swelling) of the foreskin
- pain or tenderness in the testicles (this is rare)
Source: NHS Choices