Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that is caused by a bacteria, Chlaymdia trachomatis. This bacteria is known to damage the uterus and fallopian tubes in a woman’s reproductive system. Chlaymydia that is undiagnosed and treated can result in infertility. The damage caused by chlamydia is not reversible.
Chlamydia is spread through all forms of sexual contact: vaginal, anal and oral. Young women are particularly at risk for contracting chlamydia because the cervix and uterus are not fully matured and are more prone to infection.
Chlamydia is often confused with gonorrhea. Any person who has had unprotected sex, should see a physician to rule out STDs. The physician can diagnose chlamydia, start your treatment and let you know how long chlaymdia will last after treatment. Remember that a lack of symptoms is not a reliable indicator that you are disease free. so it is important to see a doctor after any episode of unprotected sex with a new partner.
Untreated chlamydia can result in pelvic inflammatory disease, liver disease, chronic pain in the pelvis area, and infertility in women, and Reiter syndrome in men.
What Are The Signs and Symptoms of Chlamydia?
Chlamydia is often referred to as the "silent STD" because of the lack of symptoms. When symptoms are present, they usually appear one to three weeks following exposure to the chlamydia-causing bacteria. Symptoms vary depending on if you are a woman or a man.
Symptoms in Women:
- Abdominal discomfort – a general feeling that something is off. The discomfort is not usually described as pain.
- Vaginal bleeding – usually involves periodic bleeding or spotting. This can start and stop, may be very light or moderate.
- Vaginal discharge – a vaginal discharge. May or may not smell and may be light, heavy and can come and go.
- Painful urination – does not have to be a terrible pain and may just be a mild discomfort
- Low back pain
Painful intercourse, vaginal bleeding, irritation of the rectum can all be signs when the infection has progressed to the reproductive organs.
Symptoms in Men:
- Penis discharge – any abnormal discharge
- Painful urination – may not be a great deal of pain and may be more of an uncomfortable sensation
- Burning at penis opening – may be a burning sensation or an itchy sensation
- Swelling or pain in scrotum – this is a rare symptom that most men will not experience
Diagnosis and Treatment
To diagnose chlamydia the doctor will perform an exam in women and take swabs of the cervical area as well as swabs of the urethra. In men, the doctor will take a swab on the opening of the penis. A newer test is available in some locations and this is a urine test.
Treatment for chlamydia will involve a course of antibiotics such as: ofloxacin, erythromycin, doxycycline, or azithromycin. Because gonorrhea and chlamydia often occur together, these drugs can treat both STDs.
People who are diagnosed with this infection often wonder, "how long does chlamydia last after treatment?". The answer to that question is that approximately 95% of people will have the chlamydia cured with one course of antibiotic treatment. Around 5% of people need two or more courses of antibiotic treatment to cure chlamydia. It is important to follow your doctors instructions and follow up procedures to ensure you do not continue to carry and transmit chlamydia.