Chlamydia is the most commonly reported sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the U.S. It is an infection with the bacteria known as Chlamydia trachomatis. Chlamydia is very similar to gonorrhea in its symptoms and pattern of transmission. It is important to note that many people (both women and men) who are infected with chlamydia do not have any symptoms and may not be aware that they have the infection. Chlamydia infection can cause permanent damage to the fallopian tubes in a woman and can lead to future infertility and an increase risk of ectopic pregnancy. Chlamydia infection during pregnancy also increases a woman’s risk of preterm labor and of having a baby with low birth weight.
What are the signs and symptoms of chlamydia?
Most women with chlamydia have no signs or symptoms of the infection, so it may be impossible to know if you have chlamydia. It has been referred to as a “silent” infection for this reason. However, since the infection can cause permanent damage to the reproductive tract, it is still important to recognize and treat this infection. The most common manifestation of chlamydia infection is infection of the cervix with inflammation (cervicitis) in women.
When symptoms do occur, they are very similar to those caused by gonorrhea. Symptoms, if they do appear, may take up to several weeks after the initial infection to develop. Symptoms of chlamydia infection can include vaginal discharge and abdominal pain. Infection of the urethra can produce the characteristic symptoms of a urinary tract infection, including pain or burning with urination, blood in the urine, feelings of urinary urgency (feeling a continuous need to urinate) and urinating frequently.
If chlamydia infection is not treated, about 30% of cases spread within the pelvic organs, leading to a condition known as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease include pelvic pain, pain with sexual intercourse, fever, cramping, and abdominal pain. Pelvic inflammatory disease can cause scarring and damage to the reproductive organs that may result in infertility.
Infected men also may not show symptoms. If symptoms are present, these can include penile discharge, burning with urination, and less commonly, pain or swelling in one or both testicles.
What causes chlamydia?
Chlamydia is an infection with Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria. When an infection is present, the bacteria can be present in the cervix, urethra, vagina, and rectum of an infected person. It can also live in the throat. Any type of sexual contact (vaginal, anal, or oral) with an infected person can spread the infection.
Young people who are sexually active are at high risk for chlamydia.
An infected mother can also spread the infection to her baby at the time of birth as the baby passes through the vaginal canal. The most common complications of chlamydia acquired through the birth canal are eye damage and pneumonia in the newborn.
Even after a person has been treated for chlamydia, it is possible to get the infection again. With chlamydia, repeat infection is common. Read More