Chlamydia is one of the most common types of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the United States. It can easily spread from one person to another because it usually doesn't exhibit any symptom. It can be passed unknowingly between sexual partners. More than 75 percent of cases of chlamydia in women and 50 percent in men do not have any symptoms. That's the reason why it's dubbed as the “silent STD".
What Exactly is Chlamydia?
Chlamydia is caused by bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis. It is usually transmitted through sexual contact but can also be passed from a mother to child through pregnancy and giving birth. It can cause pneumonia and serious eye infections in babies. In women, the reproductive organs may become damaged because of this disease.
How Do I Know if I have This Disease?
50% of women would experience following symptoms:
- pain during urination
- pain during menstruation
- abdominal pain with fever
- pain during sexual intercourse
- bleeding between menstrual periods
- abnormal odorous discharge from the vagina
- itchiness and burning sensation in or around the vagina
25% of men would experience following symptoms:
- pain during urination
- painful and swollen testicles
- clear or cloudy discharge from the penis tip
- itchy and burning sensation felt around the opening of the penis
How is this illness Diagnosed?
The doctor uses different tests to diagnose this disease. First, he/she will take a sample from the cervix (women) or urethra (men) with the use of a swab. The specimen will be sent to the laboratory for analysis. Then the doctor may order urine sample analysis to determine if there is a presence of bacteria that causes this sexually transmitted disease.
How is it Treated?
If it is confirmed that you have this illness, the doctor will prescribe oral antibiotics like azithromycin (Zithromax) or doxycycline.
He/she will also suggest for the diagnosis and treatment of your partner/partners to prevent spread of the disease.
- one/two weeks
With the oral antibiotics, the infection can be treated within one or two weeks. Even if you feel better, you should still finish the antibiotics.
- severe cases
For severe cases, hospitalization, pain medications, and intravenous antibiotics are advised.
People should undergo re-testing to ensure that the infection has been indeed cured.
Doctors will advise against having sex until you and your partner are absolutely sure you both no longer have chlamydia.
What Would Happen If It's Left Untreated?
- pelvic inflammatory disease
If left untreated, this infection in women can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease.
Pelvic inflammatory disease can result in damage of the fallopian tubes and cause infertility.
- ectopic pregnancy
It can also increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy wherein the fertilized egg implants and develops outside the uterus.
- birth defects
It can also up the risk of premature births and passing the infection to the child. This in turn can cause pneumonia and eye infection in the newborn.
For men, consequences of not treating this infection include:
- infection of the urethra (nongonococcal urethritis)
- infection of the epididymis (epididymitis)
- inflammation of the rectum (proctitis)
Can This Be Prevented?
Yes, it can be prevented.
Reduce your risk by:
- limiting number of sex partners
- using condoms properly during sexual contact
- seeing the doctor regularly for a checkup