What is Chlamydia? It is the most common sexually transmitted bacterial infection in the U.S. Its full name is chlamydia trachomatis. It is a kind of bacteria that can infect the penis, vagina, cervix, anus, urethra, or eye. What does chlamydia cause? It causes PID (pelvic inflammatory disease), Sterility, and even death. Some common symptoms include: fever, fatigue, severe lower abdominal pain, lower abdominal tenderness, enlargement of the fallopian tubes, and vaginal discharge. There are many other things that Chlamydia can lead to.
Chlamydia often produces no symptoms. 60% of women and 40% of men have no symptoms. This is perhaps the scariest part of the disease. Equally scary is enormous infection rate of this disease. Three million American women and men become infected with chlamydia every year. Chlamydia is: four times as common as gonorrhea, more than 30 times as common as syphilis, most common among women and men under 25. For every one person with herpes, there are six with chlamydia. Another scary fact is that its possible to acquire the disease more then once; being infected once (twice, a hundred times) does not mean you are immune against more infections. People at high risk include white males aged 15-24, people with more then one partners, and women during their reproductive lives. In women and men, chlamydia may cause the rectum to itch and bleed. It can also result in a discharge and diarrhea. If it infects the eyes, chlamydia may cause redness, itching, and a discharge.
Chlamydia is transmitted through sexual intercourse. It is easier to get chlamydia through anal intercourse. Direct exchange of bodily fluids is the most common way of transmission. Whether Chlamydia can be transmitted orally is not known.Chlamydia grows within cells. Chlamydia usually infects the cervix and fallopian tubes of women and the urethra of men. Chlamydial infections are said to be the most common of all STDs. It is also said that in a population of 15 million, there are up to 300,000 cases of chlamydia each year. There are many undiagnosed cases of chlamydia in the community. It has been estimated that the true population of chlamydia in sexually active people may be in the order of 5% to 10%. Most of the time the bacterial infection will not cause any symptoms; this is especially true in females. The infection is much worse in females then in males and in most cases, the infection is not usually noticed until then its too late. Usually, chlamydia has no symptoms. Up to 85 percent of women and 40 percent of men with chlamydia have no symptoms. Most people are not aware that they have the infection. When symptoms do occur, they may begin in as little as 5-10 days after infection.
Chlamydia affects men and women differently. Some common symptoms that men experience may be mild burning while urination and, in some men, the symptoms might disappear but in most cases the infection is still there. Some other common symptoms include watery, white penile discharges, which sometimes happen only in the morning, and can disappear. This does not mean that the infection is gone. The other symptom is testicle pain. Chlamydia also makes men sterile. It can spread from the urethra to the testicles. Then it can result in a condition called epididymitis. Epididymitis can cause sterility. Chlamydia causes more than 250,000 cases of epididymitis in the U.S. every year. Another danger of chlamydia for men is Reiters syndrome. Reiters syndrome causes severe arthritis, and immobilizes many men. Of the estimated one and a half million men in the U.S. who get chlamy die each year one percent 15,000 may develop Reiter’s syndrome. Perhaps one-third of these men 5,000 will become permanently disabled each year.
Chlamydia poses a huge danger to females as well. The most severe complication of chlamydia is the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). As a result of infection to women it travels into the upper genital tract. Infection of the cervix and fallopian tubes occurs frequently, and chlamydia can also cause urethral infection. Symptoms of PID can include pain in urination, bladder infection, a thin vaginal discharge of pus and lower abdominal pain. Inflammation of the cervix with pus is very common. Up to 60% of women with untreated Chlamydia will develop PID. In fact, almost of PID in woman is caused by Chlamydia. PID can scar and block the fallopian tubes. That can make a woman sterile and unable to get pregnant. Fertilized eggs may not reach the uterus because tubes are blocked. If they develop in the tubes, this is called an ectopic pregnancy. A woman may die if a pregnancy develops outside her uterus. She usually needs emergency surgery. Women with PID of the fallopian tubes are 7-10 times more likely than other women to have ectopic pregnancies. Of the woman with PID, 20% will become infertile; 18% will experience chronic pelvic pain; and 9% will have a life-threatening tube pregnancy. Also, research has shown that women infected with Chlamydia have a 3 – 5 time greater chance of getting HIV, if exposed. Other symptoms from chlamydia include: bleeding between menstrual periods, vaginal bleeding after intercourse, abdominal pain, painful intercourse, low-grade fever, painful urination, the urge to urinate more than usual, cervical inflammation, abnormal vaginal discharge, and mucopurulent cervicitis (MPC) a yellowish discharge from the cervix that may have a foul odor
Eye infections in infants born of infected mothers can also occur. Between 20 and 50 percent of children born to women with chlamydia will be infected. Every year more than 180,000 babies are born with eye infections or pneumonia. Chlamydia is the leading cause of neonatal conjunctivitis, which is an eye infection that can cause blindness. Symptoms usually begin within four weeks of birth. These children can also develop chlamydia pneumonia, a kind of pneumonia that can be fatal. This infection is harder to treat in infants than adults. Chlamydia also may cause heavy bleeding before delivery. It might cause membranes to break early, resulting in premature delivery. It also may be connected to miscarriage, stillbirth, or low birth weight.
I think it is important to test yourself, both for you and your partners health. To test for Chlamydia in women a sample of cells from the cervix is taken. Testing for Chlamydia in men involves taking a sample of cells from the urethra or testing a first a urine sample.
Chlamydia is easy to treat. Both partners must be treated at the same time. Antibiotics kill chlamydia bacteria. Doxycycline or azithromycin are the preferred treatments. Azithromycin is taken in one dose. Although doxycycline costs less, it must be taken for seven days. Erythromycin is often prescribed for pregnant women and other people who cannot take tetracycline. It is also used to treat infants with eye infections or pneumonia caused by chlamydia. Gonorrhea and chlamydia may have similar symptoms. It is important to tell them apart. Certain medications can kill gonorrhea but don’t work for chlamydia. Other sexually transmitted infections may hide the symptoms of chlamydia.
There are several ways that are prescribed to prevent infection. The best way to prevent infection is knowledge about the disease, and symptoms. Using condoms provide some but not complete protection. Spermicidal sometimes kill the bacteria that cause Chlamydia, but not always. Another way to prevent infection is to urinate and wash after sexual contact. People with more than one partner should have an STD check every six months, even if there are no symptoms.
Chlamydia is a very dangerous infection to contract. Because many people do not experience any symptoms, the disease can spread with out the infected person even knowing that they have it. Although it is easily treated, it is important for sexually active people to know the dangers of this disease.
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