What is chlamydia?
One of the most common Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), chlamydia, is a bacterial infection you can get from sexual contact with another person. It can, however, be easily cured with antibiotics. If chlamydia is left untreated, or the full course of antibiotics is not taken, it can lead to severe complications. The symptoms of chlamydia affect the penis, vagina, cervix, anus, urethra, eyes, and throat. However, in many cases, patients don’t experience any symptoms and therefore are unaware that they have chlamydia.
What causes chlamydia?
Chlamydia is caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. It spreads during sexual contact with someone who has the infection.
People can get chlamydia from having vaginal sex, anal sex, and oral sex. Using condoms while having sex, not having multiple sex partners, having sex with only one partner who is not infected, are some of the best ways to prevent chlamydia.
Who is prone to chlamydia?
People who are prone to chlamydia include:
- those who have several different sex partners
- those whose sex partners have additional different sex partners
- those who do not use condoms
- those with a history of other sexually transmitted infections
- sexually abused children
- newborn babies who can get it from their mother if she is infected
How is chlamydia transmitted?
Chlamydia may be transmitted through:
- unprotected vaginal sex with an infected person
- unprotected anal sex with an infected person
- unprotected oral sex with an infected person
- genital contact with an infected person
- from pregnant mother to child if the mother is infected
Chlamydia cannot be transmitted through:
- toilet seats used by an infected person
- sharing a sauna with infected people
- sharing a swimming pool with infected people
- coughing and sneezing
- touching a surface that an infected person had previously touched
- sharing a space with an infected person
What are the symptoms of chlamydia? How is chlamydia diagnosed?
The signs and symptoms of chlamydia in women include:
- discharge from the vagina which has a distinct odour
- painful menstrual periods
- bleeding in between menstrual periods
- pain in the abdomen and fever
- pain during sexual intercourse
- vaginal burning and itching
- pain while urinating
The signs and symptoms of chlamydia in men include:
- cloudy or clear discharge from the penis tip
- itching and burning around the penis opening
- pain while urinating
- painful inflammation around the testis
A general practitioner can diagnose chlamydia by performing a few examinations such as:
- a urine test
- taking a swab of the discharge from your cervix for culture or antigen testing for chlamydia if you are a woman
- taking a specimen from the urethra if you are a man for onward lab analysis
What are the complications of chlamydia?
Chlamydia can cause different complications in men and women if left untreated.
In women, chlamydia can cause complications such as:
- pelvic inflammatory disease
- chronic pelvic pain
- an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy or when a fertilised egg implants itself outside the womb
- complications during pregnancy such as premature birth, passing on the infection to the baby, miscarriage, or stillborn baby
- reactive arthritis
In men chlamydia complications include:
- inflammation of the testicles or epididymitis or epididymo-orchitis.
- reactive arthritis where the joints, eyes, or urethra become inflamed
- inflamed rectum
What is the treatment for chlamydia?
Chlamydia is easily treatable with antibiotics. Your doctor may also suggest your partner(s) be treated to prevent the infection from spreading to others.
In some severe cases in women especially the antibiotics may be given intravenously along with painkillers.
Taking the entire course of antibiotics coupled with regular follow up examination with your doctor is highly necessary to make sure that the infection has been completely treated. You will be advised to abstain from sex until the time the infection is completely cured.
Questions answered by trusted doctors
Did you know?
Chlamydia among women in India
According to Information available from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) chlamydia is a condition found in 23% of women who are tested in an India.
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