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Sexually Transmitted Diseases Guide

Facts About Chlamydia

By

Updated May 13, 2014

Chlamydia is the most frequently reported STD in the world. This despite the fact that the infection is substantially under-reported. Because the symptoms of chlamydia are mild or absent, people who have chlamydia often are unaware of the infection.

What is Chlamydia

Chlamydial infection, like gonorrhea, is a common adult disease which has asymptomatic (without symptoms) rates in women similar to those for gonorrhea, but higher rates of asymptomatic infection than gonorrhea in men. It is caused by the bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis. Like gonorrhea, chlamydia can cause such things as pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility. Diagnosis of chlamydial infection is widely available in the western world. However, the test for chlamydia is costly and not generally available in developing countries. This means that around the world, many chlamydia infections go undetected and untreated.

How Does Chlamydia Infection Occur

As the term sexually transmitted disease suggests, chlamydia is spread from person to person during unprotected anal, vaginal, or oral sex. In addition, chlamydia can be passed from the mother to her newborn baby during vaginal childbirth. While any sexually active person is at risk for infection, some people have a higher risk than others.

What Are the Symptoms of Chlamydia?

About 75 percent of women and 50 percent of men who have chlamydia have no symptoms. But in the rest, symptoms do appear about one to three weeks after infection. These symptoms include:

Women
The symptoms in women include:

  • vaginal discharge
  • burning or pain with urination
  • abdominal and/or low back pain
  • nausea
  • fever
  • pain with intercourse
  • vaginal bleeding between periods

Men
Symptoms in men include:

  • burning or pain with urination
  • penile discharge
  • burning and itching aroung the opening at the tip of the penis

    Important Fact!
    If left untreated chlamydia can cause permanent damage to the reproductive system. However, the damage that the untreated chlamydia causes may go unnoticed because often there are no symptoms. For this reason, treatment of chlamydia is recommended with or without symptoms.

How is Chlamydia Treated?

Fortunately, treatment of chlamydia is easy and effective. Treatment can consist of a single dose of an antibiotic or a week's worth of antibiotic twice daily. During treatment, sexual activity should not occur. Partners of the person with chlamydia should be tested for chlamydia and treated if infected.

Important Information!
Women and teenage girls should be re-tested a few months after treatment. Because of the risk of reinfection from an untreated partner and the potential hard chlamydia can do to the reproductive system it is important to make sure the chlamydia has been treated completely and that re-infection has not occurred.

Antibiotic Fact Sheets

Page 4 - A Guide to Trichomoniasis

Source
Centers for Disease Control; "Chlamydia - CDC Fact Sheet"; 1 Apr 2006.

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