What is Chlamydia?
Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by Chlamydia trachomatis. It is one of the most common form of STD in the US with an estimate of 4 million new infected cases each year. Women with Chlamydia should deal with the bacterial infection as soon as possible to prevent damage on the reproductive organs, such as the uterus and fallopian tubes, which can lead to infertility.
The symptoms of Chlamydia are often undetected as its manifestations are mostly mild and sometimes absent. When present, symptoms usually manifest after 1 to 3 weeks from exposure. About 50 to 75 percent of infected women show no symptoms of the bacterial infection thus they do not know that they are infected and that they are capable of spreading the disease to their partner.
In men, common symptoms are penile discharges and burning sensation while urinating. Itching and burning sensations may also be felt by men around the opening of their penis. The testicles may swell and men may feel pain in the area. For women, common symptoms include vaginal discharges and burning sensation while urinating. In late stages of infection, women may feel lower abdominal pain, fever, nausea, pain during intercourse and bleeding in between of menstrual cycles.
Chlamydia does not only affect the sexual organs, it can also invade other parts of the body and can cause conditions such as conjunctivitis or inflammation of the eye, cervicitis or inflammation of the cervix and proctitis or inflammation in the rectal lining and anal opening. Other conditions include pneumonia in infants and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
How Do You Get Chlamydia?
A person who is sexually active can be infected with Chlamydia trachomatis. Chlamydia infection spreads through unprotected sex via body fluids. Since there are no symptoms, an infected individual can easily spread the bacteria through vaginal, oral or anal sex. Other mode of transmission includes:
- Hands with infected secretions can infect the eyes.
- Sharing of sex toys can also spread the infection.
- Pregnant woman can pass the infection to her baby during childbirth.
How Can You Treat and Prevent Chlamydia?
Infection caused by Chlamydia trachomatis is often treated with antibiotics. The chances of cure of a person taking these drugs are 80 to 90 percent. It is a must that both partners undergo testing and treatments to prevent recurrence of the infection and while on the treatment process.
To prevent the spread of the bacterial infection, barrier contraceptives such as condom are often recommended to be used in every sexual intercourse. Likewise, washing of hands and sex toys after contact with infected bodily secretions are also encouraged. It is also advised that infected individuals seek medical attention to prevent development of irreversible complications of the disease, such as infertility in women.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Chlamydia - CDC Fact Sheet