What is Chlamydia?


What is Chlamydia? Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the world. It is caused by a bacteria called chlamydia trachomatis. It can be transmitted through oral, anal and vaginal sex as well as by skin to skin contact.

This week LetsGetChecked discuss Chlamydia, which is one of the most common sexully transmitted disease amongst men and women with an ever-increasing rate of prevalence worldwide.


Contents


What Are The Symptoms Of Chlamydia?


The symptoms of chlamydia infection are different for men and women. Chlamydia is sometimes referred to as the “silent” infection as it often does not cause symptoms in those infected. This can lead to a false sense of security and leads to complications if the infection is not detected.

The time between exposure to chlamydia and the start of symptoms may range from days to months. If symptoms appear, it is usually 1 to 3 weeks after sexual contact with an infected person.


Chlamydia Symptoms In Men


  • Painful urination
  • Unusual discharge
  • Pain in the testicles
  • Feeling ill or feverish

Men who have sex with men could experience these symptoms if they are performing anal and/or oral sex:

  • Anal discharge
  • Sore throat

Chlamydia Symptoms In Women


80% of women infected with chlamydia experience no symptoms at all. The only way to know for sure if they are infected is to get tested. However, if they do experience symptoms, below are some examples:

  • Painful urination
  • Cloudy urine
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding with intercourse or between periods
  • Genital itching
  • Irregular menstrual bleeding
  • Lower abdominal (belly) pain
  • Fever and general tiredness
  • Swollen and painful glands at the opening of the vagina (Bartholin glands)
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Pain during sex
  • Anal discharge

Can Chlamydia Be Treated?


Chlamydia is very simple and easy to treat. The treatment is a once-off course of antibiotics. If the infection is a more complex, for example, if a woman has pelvic pain or if the infection is found in the throat or the anal region, a more extensive course of antibiotics may be required.

The infection does not cause long-term problems if it is diagnosed and treated early. However, untreated chlamydia can lead to many complications, especially in women.


How Is Chlamydia Diagnosed?


Chlamydia diagnosis relies upon a laboratory test.

One method of testing is a medical professional can take a swab sample from the infected area. This test can be performed by your family doctor or at your local sexual health clinic. Another testing method is a urine test. This can identify the bacteria in your urethra. Once again you can visit your family doctor or local sexual health clinic to take this test or alternatively you can take the test at home.


Can Chlamydia Be Prevented?


The only true way one can prevent themselves from catching a sexually transmitted infection such as chlamydia is to abstain from sexual intercourse. Of course, we know that this is not realistic. Condoms are the key and when used effectively are up to 95% successful at preventing most STIs including chlamydia.


Complications Associated With Chlamydia


The complications associated with chlamydia are more serious for women because such a high percentage of women will not present with symptoms.

1. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Pelvic inflammatory disease is an infection of the organs of a women’s reproductive system. They include the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, and cervix. The disease causes blockages of the fallopian tubes, scarring and adhesions (sticking together of tissues or organs).

2. Ectopic Pregnancy

When a woman has PID and is trying to conceive, what can occur is an ectopic pregnancy. This is when a pregnancy occurs outside the uterus. This can be a serious medical emergency and require abdominal surgery.

3. Infertility

If left untreated, the damage caused by pelvic inflammatory disease to a woman’s reproductive system can leave the woman infertile.

Often when a woman starts trying for a baby, she could be in her early or mid-thirties, and might not be aware that she has had chlamydia infection for the past 10 years. This is why it is so important to get tested regularly.

4. Chronic Pelvic Pain

This affliction is as it says, it is a chronic dull, aching or stabbing, sharp pain in the pelvic area. It can seriously affect the woman’s quality of life and is another reason to get tested regularly for chlamydia infection.


Learn More About Chlamydia with Dr. Dominic Rowley:



Read: What Are The Most Common Symptoms Of STDs?


Written by Hannah Kingston | Approved by Medical Director Dominic Rowley