Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted disease that may infect both men and women. However, women are seen to be at a higher risk than men. The infection rate is higher in sexually active women between 15 and 25 years.

In most cases, it does not cause any symptoms, and thus you may not be aware even if you are infected. But if left unattended, it can cause complications in both genders.

It can also permanently damage a woman’s reproductive system, making it difficult for her to get pregnant. Chlamydia infection can also result in an ectopic pregnancy.

Thus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends all sexually active women below 25 years to get screened for chlamydia every year. 

Symptoms of Chlamydia 

Men

When present, some common symptoms in men include:

  • Green or yellow discharge from the penis
  • Pain in the testicles
  • Burning sensation during urination
  • Pain in the lower abdomen

You can also get an infection in the butt after anal sex. Some common symptom includes:

  • An itchy or painful anus
  • Diarrhea
  • Bleeding or discharge from the anus
  • Swelling of the anus

If chlamydia affects the eyes, it may cause itching, redness, or discharge. Having oral sex may also cause infection in the throat, resulting in cough, sore throat, or fever.

Regardless of the location, chlamydia symptoms tend to appear in the morning.

Women

Some common symptoms in women include:

  • Vaginal discharge
  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Pain during sex
  • Burning sensation during urination
  • Inflammation of the cervix
  • Swelling inside the vagina
  • Strong-smelling or yellowish vaginal discharge
  • Increased urgency to pass urine

If the infection spreads beyond the cervix and vagina, it may cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID symptoms may include:

  • A low-grade fever
  • Bleeding after sex
  • Pain in the lower back
  • Nausea
  • Bleeding between periods

You can also get an infection in the butt after anal sex. Some common symptom includes:

  • An itchy or painful anus
  • Diarrhea
  • Bleeding or discharge from the anus
  • Swelling the anus

If chlamydia affects the eyes, it may cause itching, redness, or discharge. Having oral sex may also cause infection in the throat, resulting in cough, sore throat, or fever.

If you have sex with a new partner or you or your sexual partner have the mentioned symptoms, it is best to get tested for chlamydia. In case of any doubts, you can consult your doctor for the same.

Causes

The bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis causes chlamydia, which is a sexually transmitted disease. It can also cause other disorders, including:

  • Pneumonia
  • Enlarged lymph nodes in the groin
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Inflammation of the cervix

It is not possible to spread this infection through hugging or kissing. However, you can transmit it:

  • To your baby during pregnancy
  • Through oral, vaginal, or anal sex without a barrier method of contraception such as a condom.
  • During sex, even if your partner does not ejaculate
  • Touching of genitals

It is also possible to get infected again even if you were treated in the past. This is possible if you have unprotected sex with an infected partner.

It is also possible to get a chlamydia infection in the eye through genital or oral contact with the eyes.

Effects in Men and Women

If chlamydia is picked up as soon as it is suspected, the infection is more likely to clear up without complications.

On the other hand, you can experience severe complications if you wait too long to manage them.

Female Complications 

In some cases, women can develop PID if the infection ascends to the cervix, uterus, and ovaries. PID is an emergency condition and needs hospital treatment.

It may also cause infertility if left untreated, as the fallopian tubes may get blocked or scarred.

If the women pass the infection to the baby, it may cause pneumonia or eye infection in newborns.

So, complications include:

  • Infertility
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Passing infection to the baby

Male complications 

  • Epididymitis: It is an inflammatory condition of the epididymis, a tube that maintains the testes in place. This condition may cause pain in the testicles.
  • Prostatitis: The infection can pass to the prostate, resulting in pain during intercourse, fever, and discomfort in the lower back.
  • Urethritis: When the infection affects the urethra, it may cause pain while urinating.

Diagnosis

Your doctor may ask about your symptoms. They may also run a physical check to look for sores, discharge, unusual spots, or other symptoms indicating an infection.

The most common way of diagnosing chlamydia is by sending the sample to a laboratory for analysis. It can be done in two ways:

  • Swab: It involves using cotton to take the sample from the vagina, anus, or throat.
  • Urine analysis: Urine is collected in a container.

The results may take about seven to ten days. If you have symptoms that indicate chlamydia, the treatment may be started even before the results come.

Who Should Get Tested?

Your doctor may advise taking the test if:

  • You have had unprotected sex with a new partner
  • You or your partner have multiple sexual partners
  • You are planning to conceive or are pregnant
  • You or your partner have symptoms of chlamydia
  • You are sexually active and under 25 years
  • You are men having sex with men

How is Chlamydia Treated?

Fortunately, chlamydia can be cured easily. It is seen that 95% of the infected individuals are cured of the infection if they take medicines correctly. 

As chlamydia is a bacterial infection, antibiotics help to manage it. Commonly used antibiotics are:

  • Azithromycin: Usually prescribed to be taken in a single large dose
  • Doxycycline: To be taken twice a day for a week

If you are allergic to the mentioned medicines or they are not advisable for you, the doctor may prescribe other antibiotics such as erythromycin or amoxicillin. So, do not take medicine before consulting your doctor.

Despite the choice of antibiotics, taking medicine correctly will ensure that the infection is cleared completely. It may take up to two weeks for the same.

Your doctor will advise refraining from sex during treatment to prevent the spread of the infection to your partner. It is also possible to get or spread the infection if you are exposed to the bacteria again, even if you are treated for your previous infection.

Although chlamydia is curable, it is essential to take precautions and prevent its recurrence.

Reducing Chlamydia Transmission

The surest and the best way to prevent spreading or contracting chlamydia infection is to use a condom during sex.

It is recommended to:

  • Use a condom, especially with each new partner
  • Avoid having oral sex unless the partner is screened for STDs
  • Get screened regularly
  • Limit the number of sexual partners
  • Correct and consistent use of condoms
  • Avoid sex until the treatment is complete
  • Get tested if you are pregnant or planning to conceive
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