Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease caused by Chlamydia trachomatis. The most noticeable symptoms of this disease include inflammation of the rectum in both men and women and an inflamed cervix in women. Chlamydia is a deadly infection for women as it comes with it a lot of potentially devastating effects such as chronic pelvic pain, pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy and even the worst of it all, infertility.
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The causal bacteria for Chlamydia, Chlamydia trachomatis, also causes another disease known as Lymphogranuloma venerum, which is a prevalent disease in developing countries. The symptom of this disease is a chronic inflammation
Is Chlamydia a common disease?
Yes. People aged between 15 and 25 years are the most infected group. And Chlamydia itself barely has any noticeable symptoms or signs of ailments. This is why a lot of individuals spread the disease without being aware because they never got treatment for it. Although the majority of the infected people are between 15 and 25, people of other age groups also get infected.
How is Chlamydia Transmitted?
Chlamydia is mostly a sexually transmitted disease, and it is caused by a type of bacterium which attaches itself to the mucous membranes. When a carrier and a healthy person come in sexual contact through the mouth, sex organs or anus, Chlamydia transmission can take place. Usually, ejaculation does not have to happen for the infection to be transmitted. Another way of transmitting Chlamydia is from a mother to a child during pregnancy and birth, which leads to pneumonia or chlamydia in the eyes of the child. Anyone who has been treated for Chlamydia infection once can have the disease again if they get in contact with the bacteria.
Who can get infected?
Anybody who is sexually active can have Chlamydia. Its primary mode of infection is through sex, and it is prevalent among young people. Young people are the most likely to have this disease because of reasons which are obvious enough – reckless sexual behavior of young people which include frequent changing of partners and not wearing condoms before sex. Young people also tend to delay their visit to a medical professional to get tested. Some of the reasons for this may include fear of being stigmatized, being unable to afford treatment or in some cases, the outright lack of attention to personal health.
Men who have sex with men can also get infected since Chlamydia can be contracted through anal and oral sex.
Symptoms of Chlamydia
Chlamydia is a docile infection as most infected people never get symptoms at the early stages of the infection. The incubation period of the infection varies, and for any infected individual that sees any symptoms of the disease, the disease would have spent several weeks in their body.
Chlamydia affects women in the cervix, and sometimes, the symptoms that women see could be a urinary tract infection which causes frequent visits to the toilet. In some other cases, a symptom of chlamydia is irregular bleeding outside the menstrual period. If the infection spreads further into the cervical canal, it could cause pelvic inflammatory disease.
For men, chlamydia causes urethritis. Its major symptoms are burning and itching.
Another form of chlamydia infection is the one that affects the anus, which can affect both men and women. This is caused through direct contact in the anus or chlamydia spreading from the genitals into the anus. Some of the symptoms of chlamydia in the anus include bleeding, discharge, and pain in the anus.
There is also a type of chlamydia that affects the eye, which is caused by the eye coming in direct contact with genital discharge or the discharge from genitals.
More: Chlamydia in the eye
What are the complications that can result from Chlamydia?
Chlamydia infection can go undetected for a long time, but without treatment, it can cause severe health issues.
Some of the complications that arise from Chlamydia in women include pelvic inflammatory disease as a result of the spread of the disease through the fallopian tube or cervix. Below are some of the symptoms of complications from an untreated Chlamydia infection in women;
- Pain in the lower abdomen.
- Fever and Malaise.
- A yellowish discharge which may sometimes contain blood.
In men, chlamydia infection affects the epididymis and testicles, and if left untreated, it can lead to infertility. Some of the symptoms of the infection in the epididymis and testicles are;
- Burning sensation while urinating
- Pain in the scrotum
- Swelling and redness in the scrotal sac.
The health consequences of a Chlamydia infection can be severe if the patient fails to treat it. If you notice that you have any of these symptoms of infection in the pelvis, testicles, and epididymis, go and see a doctor right away.
If a woman fails to treat a pelvic infection on time, it can lead to permanent damage to the uterus and fallopian tube. This could lead to ectopic pregnancy, infertility, and chronic pelvic pain which can be life-threatening.
Any case of untreated chlamydia infection can lead to premature birth or infection to the newborn child in the form of an eye infection or pneumonia.
More: Chlamydia Complications
Chlamydia and HIV
When chlamydia is not treated, there is a high chance of getting HIV which is the virus that leads to AIDS.
Who should be tested for Chlamydia?
Any sexually active person is at the risk of getting Chlamydia. So, the moment a person starts feeling pains around the genital area, they should go for a chlamydia test and stay away from having sex until their test result says negative.
If your partner tested positive recently for chlamydia, you should go for a test too. Chlamydia is usually detected with a test as it is an asymptomatic infection. It is a very common sex infection and to avoid getting infected yourself; you should test yourself whenever any of the following happens;
- When you change your sexual partner, especially if you do this frequently.
- When your ex-sexual partner or current partner tests positive for Chlamydia
- When you see symptoms of Chlamydia
- If you are pregnant or pregnant under 25 years old.
- If you are pregnant and you have had multiple sexual partners in the past.
- If you have tested positive for Chlamydia before.
Testing for Chlamydia
There are different ways of testing for Chlamydia, and you can do so without even going to see a doctor. If you do not want to go to the clinic, but you would like to know your chlamydia status, buy a home test kit for chlamydia. A self-test kit has an accuracy of 99.8%, and it is quite straightforward.
Treating Chlamydia Infection
Chlamydia is a bacterial infection, and generally, antibiotics will work effectively in treating it. The treatment usually entails taking doxycycline for seven days or a one-time dose of Azitromax. In the course of treatment and after treatment, you should stay away from any form of sexual activity for a week. You must do this so that you do not pass on the infection in case it has not completely cleared off. What antibiotics do is to cure the infection; if the infection has already caused some permanent damages, antibiotics may not fix those damages. If you continue to see symptoms after treatment, get in touch with your doctor.
In some cases, you may get chlamydia infections even after treatment. Women, especially are more susceptible to getting infected with the bacterium again if they fail to complete their treatment. And for a woman, more chlamydia infections increase the risks of having severe diseases that affect the woman’s reproductive health such as ectopic pregnancy and pelvic inflammatory diseases.
After getting treatment for chlamydia infection, you should take another test after three months.
When you get diagnosed for chlamydia, after getting treatment, make sure you inform any sexual partner that you might have had over the past two to three months so that they can get tested and go for treatment if they test positive. This will keep them from getting any serious complications from the infection as well as reduce any risk of the infection reoccurring. The bottom line here is that anybody who has tested positive for chlamydia should not engage in sexual relations until they have completed treatment.
Prevention of Chlamydia
Using condom is the best method for reducing the risks of Chlamydia infection. Other effective methods include abstinence from oral sex, anal sex, and vaginal sex. It might be hard to stay away from sex but if you must have sex, stick to one partner.