Chlamydia is the most frequently reported STD and is not difficult to treat. Left untreated, it can be destructive to a woman’s reproductive health. Most people who are infected have no symptoms. The only way to know whether or not a person is infected is to be tested. Irreversible damage can occur to the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries causing a woman to become infertile. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) can occur, leading to chronic pelvic pain, or severe pain with intercourse. The infection can spread to the kidneys and the liver and lead to internal bleeding and death.
Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that spreads through oral, vaginal or an anal route via sex. Often there are no symptoms in men or women. It can be detected through screening and treated immediately with antibiotics. All partners must be treated to avoid possible transmission to others and re-contamination of the patient. The patient can easily be reinfected from her partner if that individual is not treated.
Teenagers are at the highest risk for getting infected with Chlamydia. Even newborns are susceptible to infection from this bacteria and can develop pneumonia.
There may be no initial symptoms when one becomes infected with Chlamydia. It is known as a silent’ infection because nearly 75% of women and 50% of men have no symptoms. Those who have symptoms report that the symptoms started 1 to 3 weeks after being exposed to someone with Chlamydia.
In women, the bacteria initially infects the cervix and the urethra. Women who have symptoms may have an abnormal vaginal discharge or burning with urination. When the infection spreads to the fallopian tubes, some women may still have no symptoms. Others have lower abdominal pain, low back pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, pain during intercourse, or bleeding between menstrual periods. The infection can even spread to the rectum.
Men with symptoms may have a penile discharge, or burning with urination. There may be burning and itching around the opening of the penis. Men who engage in rectal intercourse may get Chlamydia in the rectum which can cause rectal pain, discharge, or bleeding.
Chlamydia can also be found in the throats of women and men having oral sex with an infected partner.
Chlamydia is diagnosed through a urine test. If found to be positive, the patient can be treated and cured with antibiotics. Neither the patient nor her partner should engage in any form of sex until they both have been completely treated. Otherwise, re-infection is possible. If the sexual partner has not been properly treated, then re-infection is highly likely. If a patient is not sure that her partner has been treated, then re-testing in 3 to 4 months is appropriate.
The way to prevent transmission of any STD is abstinence or be in a long-term monogamous relationship with a partner who tested negative and is known to be uninfected. Latex condoms, when used correctly can reduce but not eliminate the risk of transmission of Chlamydia. This means using condoms in all forms of sex: oral, vaginal, and anal.
Any genital symptom such as discharge, burning with urination, or unusual sore or rash should be a signal to stop having sex and call our offices for an appointment.
It is best to undergo Chlamydia screening with your annual exam once a year.
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