Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection caused by bacteria. It is estimated that chlamydia is the most common STD with 3 – 4 million new cases each year. Rates of chlamydia are highest in the West and Midwest, part of the contry. How is it Spread? Chlamydia is spread by direct person-to-person contact. It is almost always transmitted through sexual contact. It is also possible for pregnant women to pass the bacteria to their infant during birth. How Do you Know if you are Infected? Because symptoms are not always present, you may be infected with chlamydia and not know it.
You can be tested for chlamydia and other sexually transmitted diseases at your local doctor. To test for chlamydia, the physician will use a cotton swab to collect cells from your genitals. What are the Symptoms? If present, symptoms may appear in a week to a month after infection. Seventy-five percent of persons with chlamydia may show no symptoms. Men are more likely than women to show signs of infection. Chlamydia in Men Painful urination.
Mild, sticky, milky or mucus-like discharge from penis Testicular pain Irritation around opening of the penis Symptoms may seem to “come and go” Chlamydia is often silent in women, with up to 90% of women asymptomatic. Women can carry the bacteria for months or even years without knowing it. This makes screening very important. When symptoms do present, they include the following: Chlamydia in Women Mild, milky or mucus-like discharge Painful urination Painful intercourse Bleeding between menses Abdominal pain It is possible to acquire the infection in the pharynx (throat) from oral-genital contact. Infected persons can also transfer the infection to their eyes. Are There Any Long Term Complications? When treated early, there are no long term consequences of chlamydia.
Serious complications can result however when left untreated. Long term complications in men may include: Epididymitis – an inflammation of the testicles that can cause sterility Prostatitis – an infection of the prostate gland Reiter’s Syndrome – an autoimmune, arthritis-like condition Sterility Long term complications in women may include: Pelvic Inflammatory Disease – an ascending infection that spreads from the vagina and cervix to the uterus and fallopian tubes. PID can lead to sterility.
Perihepatitis – an infection around the liver Reiter’s Syndrome – an automimmune, arthritis-like condition Sterility Chlamydia is very dangerous when passed to infants. It can cause eye infections, blindness, ear infections, pneumonia, and death How is it Treated? Chlamydia can be treated with antibiotics. It is important that all of the antibiotics are taken as prescribed, and that the infected person withhold from sexual intercourse during treatment. Proper hand washing is essential, as the bacteria can be transferred to the eyes. All sex partners should be informed to seek treatment. Because chlamydia is often silent, they may not show symptoms of the infection until long term consequences have occurred.