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Chlamydia

Overview

Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STD) caused by Chlamydia trachomatis. Because it generally causes no symptoms, this virus is easily spread, and you could unknowingly spread chlamydia to your partners. Since many people don't experience genital pain or discharge from their sexual organs, they may not realize they have chlamydia. Chlamydia trachomatis primarily affects young women; however, it can infect men and women of all ages. It's not difficult to treat, but it can lead to more severe health problems if left untreated.

Causes

The Bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis is spread most commonly during unprotected vaginal, oral, and anal intercourse. You can get it from an infected person's semen or vaginal fluid, as it can also spread from one infected person to another by genital contact, even if no sexual activity is involved. It's also possible for pregnant mothers to pass chlamydia on to their babies during delivery, resulting in pneumonia or a severe eye infection.

Risk Factors

Chlamydia trachomatis is linked to several risk factors, including: 

  • Being sexually active before the age of 25
  • Having more than one sex partner
  • Not using a condom during intercourse
  • History of sexually transmitted infections

Symptoms

The symptoms of Chlamydia may usually appear 1 to 3 weeks following contact.

Symptoms of Chlamydia in Women

  • Vaginal discharge that is abnormal and may have an odor
  • Bleeding in the intervals between periods
  • Painful menstruation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Itching or burning in the vaginal area
  • Painful urination

Symptoms of Chlamydia in Males

  • Cloudy or clear discharge from the penis (male sex organ)
  • Painful urination
  • Itching and burning around the opening of the penis
  • Swelling and pain around the testicles
  • Chlamydia can also spread to other parts of your body, such as your anus, throat, and eyes, if you have unprotected sex.

 Among the signs and symptoms are:

Anus: Discharge and feeling of discomfort

Throat: Usually, there are no symptoms.

Eyes: Redness, hurt, pain, and discharge from eyes

Diagnosis

To diagnose chlamydia, your doctor might order a variety of tests. They'll most likely take a sample with a swab, either from the urethra (the tube from which urine flows) in males or from the cervix in women. It is then sent to a laboratory for testing. They might also look for microorganisms in a urine sample.

A Urine Test: A sample of your urine is taken and tested in a lab to see if you have this infection.

Swab Test

In Women - Your doctor takes a sample of your cervical discharge for culture or antigen testing for chlamydia.  This can also be done during a routine Pap test. Some women choose to swab their vaginas themselves, which has been proved to be as accurate as swabs acquired by a specialist.

In Men - To obtain a sample from the urethra, your doctor inserts a thin swab into the end of your penis. Your doctor may swab the anus in some circumstances.

Medications

Chlamydia is a treatable infection. Doctors usually treat it with antibiotics since it's a bacterial infection. If you have chlamydia, your doctor will likely prescribe azithromycin (Zithromax) or doxycycline as an oral antibiotic. They'll also advise that you and your partner(s) get treated to avoid reinfection and disease spread.

Treatment

Antibiotics are used to treat Chlamydia trachomatis. You may need to take the drug once, or you may need to take it daily or multiple times a day for five to ten days. The infection usually goes away within one to two weeks. Your sexual partner or partners may also require treatment even if they show no indications or symptoms; otherwise, the infection can be spread from one sexual partner to another.

You should not have sex with your partner until the infection has cleaned up to avoid spreading the disease to them. If you were given a one-time dose of antibiotics, you should wait seven days before having sex again. If you have to take medicine every day for seven days, you shouldn't have any more intercourse until you've finished all of the dosages.

Recurrence of infection is expected, so you should be tested again after three months following therapy.

Complications

Chlamydia trachomatis is often linked to the following complications:

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID): PID is a uterine and fallopian tube infection that causes pelvic pain and fever. Severe infections may require admission to the hospital for intravenous antibiotics. The fallopian tubes, ovaries, and uterus, including the cervix, can all be damaged by PID.

Epididymitis (Inflammation Near the Testicles): A chlamydia infection can inflame the coiled tube that runs beside each testicle (epididymis). Fever, scrotal discomfort, and swelling are all symptoms of the infection.

Infection of the Prostate Gland (Prostatitis): The chlamydia bacteria can sometimes spread to the prostate gland. Pain during or after intercourse, fever, chills, difficulty in urination, and lower back pain are all symptoms of prostatitis.

Infections in Newborns: Chlamydia can spread from your vaginal canal to your baby during birth, causing pneumonia or a serious eye infection.

Ectopic Pregnancy: It is when a fertilized egg implants and grows outside of the uterus, most commonly in the fallopian tube. The pregnancy must be removed to avoid life-threatening complications, such as a burst tube. This risk is increased if you have a chlamydia infection.

Infertility: Chlamydia infections, even those with no symptoms, can develop scarring and occlusion in the fallopian tubes, thus causing infertility in women.

Reactive arthritis: It is more common in people who have Chlamydia trachomatis. The joints, eyes, and urethra are commonly affected by this condition.

Prognosis

You can catch chlamydia again even if you have had it before or have been treated for it.

Prevention

Abstinence from unprotected sexual activity is the most effective approach to avoid chlamydia infection. Other than that, you can:

Use a Condom: During each sexual interaction, use a male latex condom or a female polyurethane condom. When condoms are used appropriately throughout every sexual encounter, the risk of infection is reduced but not eliminated.

Limit the Number of Sex Partners: You're more likely to develop chlamydia and other sexually transmitted infections if you have multiple sex partners.

Regular Screenings: Consult your doctor about how often you should be tested for chlamydia and other sexually transmitted diseases if you're sexually active, especially if you have multiple partners.