Chlamydia

Chlamydia

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection caused by a bacterium.

In women, infection by the bacterium is known as "Chlamydia" while infection in men by the same organism is called nongonococcal urethritis (NGU).

Chlamydia can be transmitted through vaginal, oral and anal sex.

Chlamydia can be treated with antibiotics.

Testing for Chlamydia

Testing involves collecting a small amount of fluid from an infected site (cervix or penis) with a cotton swab.

Chlamydia - the silent epidemic

Chlamydia is such a widespread disease, that it is often known as the silent epidemic.

Caused by the bacterium, Chlamydia trachomatis, chlamydia is the most commonly reported infectious disease in the United States and although curable, is considered one of the most dangerous sexually transmitted diseases (stds) among women because of the far-reaching complications it can cause.

The reason chlamydia is so widespread, and dangerous, is because it often goes unrecognized and therefore is left untreated.

Around 75% of women and 50% of men with chlamydia have no symptoms of the disease once infected. This does not mean it will not cause damage in later life, including sterility. It simply means that they currently do not display symptoms (asymptomatic).

It is for this reason that regular testing is encouraged among sexually active people, particularly those under the age of 24 years of age.

Chlamydia - Who is at Risk?

Everyone who is sexually active, or who has been sexually active but has not been screened for chlamydia.

As many as 1 in 10 adolescent girls tested for chlamydia are infected, with teenage girls showing the highest rates of chlamydial infection.

In states which collect age-specific data, 15 - 19 year-old girls represent 46% of chlamydia infections and 20 - 24 year-old women, 33%.

Certain groups of people are more at risk of contracting chlamydia than others, notably, those sexually active people under 24, mostly because they tend to have multiple sexual partners and fail to use barrier (condom) contraception 100% of the time.

Chlamydia infection rates

Chlamydia Prevention

You can get and spread chlamydia through unprotected vaginal and anal sex. This means you should approach sexual relationships responsibly: limit the number of your sex partners, use condoms, and if you think you are infected, avoid any sexual contact until you have been given the all-clear by your doctor or local std clinic.

You also need to make sure your partner is treated to avoid the risk of re-infection.

Where can Chlamydia Develop?

Chlamydia can initially develop in several areas of the body:

  • cervix
  • urethra
  • throat
  • mouth
  • rectum

Symptoms of Chlamydia

Chlamydia may cause no symptoms at all at the time of infection. This is one of the reasons it is labeled as one of the most dangerous sexually transmitted diseases, and why it is the most commonly reported infectious disease in the United States.

  • 75% of women and 50% of men show no symptoms.

Chlamydia Symptoms

Not everyone will experience every symptom outlined below but for those who contract chlamydia and develop symptoms, they may experience.

Symptoms of Chlamydia in Women

  • pain, stinging or burning feeling during urination
  • unusual vaginal discharge
  • lower abdomen pain or cramping
  • pain or cramping during intercourse
  • low grade fever
  • bleeding between periods
  • unusual itching

Symptoms of Chlamydia in Men

  • pain, burning or stinging during urination (usually mild)
  • pain or tenderness in the testicles
  • clear, or slightly colored discharge from the urethra
  • unusual itching, particularly around the opening of the end of the penis
  • low grade fever

Additional Chlamydia Information

In rare instances, chlamydia can infect the area in and around the rectum, producing inflammation and the production of a clear, sticky discharge from the rectum and, though not always, pain when going to the toilet.

Chlamydia - Treatment

Treatment of chlamydia is very straightforward.

In some cases, a single dose of an antibiotic medicine such as azithromycin (Zithromax ) may be all that is required.

More typically, a 7 day course of antibiotics such as doxycycline (Periostat ) or Erythromycin is sufficient to treat the condition.

It is of course, possible to become re-infected, and therefore regular yearly screening and testing for chlamydia if you are sexually active, will help detect the disease and help prevent the development of future complications.

Chlamydia - Considerations and Complications

The complications and future considerations of chlamydial infection are far-reaching and can be very severe, particularly if the infection is left untreated.

This can often occur if chlamydia infection produces no symptoms and therefore remains unrecognized, which is the case in the majority of women (75%) and around 50% of men, unless they are screened and tested for C.trachomatis.

Considerations of Chlamydia Infection

  • Women who are pregnant may pass the infection on to their babies or suffer other pregnancy related complications.
  • Approx 3 million new cases of chlamydia infection are reported each year in the United States.
  • The majority of new cases are in young adults in their teens and also the age group 19 - 24 years of age (79%)
  • Infection by chlamydia trachomatis is significantly associated with fertility problems in both men and women
  • There is a high prevalence of chlamydia trachomatis co-infection with those who contract a gonococcal infection (gonorrhea)
  • Women have a 3 - 5 fold increase in the risk of contracting HIV, if exposed

Complications of Chlamydia

The complications of untreated chlamydial infection can be far-reaching, extensive, devastating and in rarer cases, fatal.

Women are much more likely to develop long-term complications, with up to 40% of untreated chlamydia cases leading to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID).

Of the women who go on to develop pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), 20%, or 1 in 5, will become infertile as a result.

Complications of Chlamydia Infection in Men

  • Epididymitis - this is inflammation of the epididymis, the tube that carries sperm from the testicle. It can occur in one or both tubes and can result in extensive, very painful, swelling.
  • Fertility problems
  • Sterility
  • Reiter's Syndrome, an autoimmune condition where the joints are affected by arthritis

Complications of Chlamydia Infection in Women

  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) - this is what is known as an ascending infection, meaning that it will spread from the initial site of infection, usually the cervix, and move upwards within the reproductive tract towards the uterus and fallopian tubes (40% of women with untreated chlamydia infection will develop pelvic inflammatory disease)
  • Ectopic pregnancy - this serious and potentially fatal condition, is when an egg becomes fertilized and attaches itself somewhere other than the uterus
  • Miscarriage
  • Premature detachment of the placenta
  • Premature birth
  • Tubal pregnancy, the leading cause of first-trimester, pregnancy-related death in American women
  • Endometriosis - a condition which results in the abnormal growth and function of endometrial tissue, the mucous membrane lining the uterus which detaches during menstruation
  • Infertility
  • Chronic pain of the pelvic region
  • Perihepatitis - an inflammation of the tissue surrounding and encasing the liver
  • Reiter's Syndrome, an autoimmune condition where the joints are affected by arthritis

To the fetus and newborn chlamydia trachomatis can cause:

  • Premature birth
  • Eye disease - conjunctivitis in the newborn (ophthalmia neonatorum)
  • Infections of the
    • mouth and throat
    • genital tract
    • rectum
  • Pneumonia
  • In cases of severe infection by chlamydia trachomatis, death can occur, most often from pneumonia

 

 

 

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (ms) is the most common, disabling, neurological condition, to affect young adults in the world today.

About Stds

Sexually transmitted diseases (stds), or sexually transmitted infections (sti's) to give them their 'proper' title, are far more common now than they have ever been throughout history... Read More