What is Chlamydia?
Chlamydia is a curable sexually transmitted disease (STD) which is caused by a bacteria called chlamydia trachomatis. Chlamydia is one of the most commonly occurring of all STDs and can cause irreversible damage, including infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), and ectopic pregnancy, if left untreated. Chlamydia is so common in young women that, by age 30, 50 percent of sexually active women have evidence that they have had chlamydia at some time during their lives. It is important for you to have chlamydia testing if you are sexually active and are 25 years of age or younger.
What are the symptoms of Chlamydia?
Chlamydia is known as a "silent” disease because 75 percent of infected women and half of infected men have no symptoms. The infection is frequently not diagnosed or treated until complications develop. This fact makes screening a must!
The few women with symptoms might have an abnormal vaginal discharge or a burning sensation when urinating. When the infection spreads from the cervix to the fallopian tubes, some women still have no signs or symptoms; others have lower abdominal pain, low back pain, nausea, fever, pain during intercourse, and bleeding between menstrual periods. Whenever the infection spreads past the cervix into the upper reproductive system, permanent and irreversible damage can occur.
Men with signs or symptoms might have a discharge from the penis or a burning sensation when urinating. Men might also have burning and itching around the opening of the penis or pain and swelling in the testicles, or both.
How is Chlamydia transmitted?
Chlamydia can be transmitted during vaginal, anal or oral sex. Sexually active men and women can be exposed to chlamydia bacteria during sexual contact with an infected person. Sexually active teenagers and young women are especially susceptible to chlamydia bacteria because of the characteristics of the cells that form the lining of the cervical canal.
How do I get tested?
There are two ways you can be tested. One way is to schedule an appointment with your doctor or healthcare provider for a pelvic exam so a cervical specimen can be collected. This can be done at the same time as a pap test. Testing can also be completed through a urine specimen.
How is Chlamydia treated?
Chlamydia can be easily treated and cured with antibiotics. Safe sexual behavior and seeking proper health care can help keep people from becoming infected or re-infected with chlamydia. This may include:
Get a screening test.
Use condoms correctly every time you have sex.
Limit the number of sex partners, and do not go back and forth between partners.
If you think you are infected, avoid sexual contact, and see a health care provider immediately.
For additional information:
Discuss with your physician.
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Adapted from: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Review date: 1/07