STD/STI: Chlamydia

Chlamydia is the most common bacterial STD/STI in the US, with over 1 million infections reported each year. Given the silent nature of this infection it is likely that it is just as common in other parts of the world. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all sexually active adults be tested for chlamydia at least once a year and more often if they have multiple sex partners.

Prevention: Both male and female condoms can prevent the spread of chlamydia. Chlamydia can be spread through vaginal intercourse, anal intercourse and rarely through oral intercourse. Therefore using barrier methods during any form of sexual interaction is recommended. If you have been diagnosed with chlamydia it is best to avoid sexual contact until you have completed your course of treatment.

Treatment: Chlamydia is treated with a course of antibiotics. At this time, there are no known antibiotic resistant strains of chlamydia. Due to the silent nature of the infection, if someone has been diagnosed with chlamydia all their sexual partners will usually be prescribed antibiotics as well, to prevent any possibility of a cycle of reinfection.

Symptoms: Only 30% of women and 75% of men who are infected with chlamydia will develop symptoms. This means that more than half of those infected will have no indication of their infection.

Symptoms for both men and women include abnormal discharge from sexual organs or rectum, and burning during urination. Women may also experience pain during sex and develop symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease. Men may develop painful or tender testes.

Diagnosis: Chlamydia is diagnosed through taking cell samples from any and all possible infected areas (penis, cervix, urethra and rectum) and sending them out for testing. In some cases, Chlamydia may be diagnosed with the urine test.

Complications: The most common complications from chlamydia are infection of the urethra or cervix. This can develop into more severe complications for women, untreated cervical infection can spread to the uterus and fallopian tubes leading to pelvic inflammatory disease, and possibly infertility and/or an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy.

If a woman is infected during pregnancy additional possible complications can affect the child. Doreen birth infection can spread to the eyes or throat of the newborn, which can lead to blindness or chlamydial pneumonia.

Chlamydia is one of those infections that makes STD/STI testing so important. If undetected it is easily spread and can have significant long-term consequences. However it is easily detected and easily treated if it is caught before problems develop.
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