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Chlamydia - Sexually Transmitted Disease

What is Chlamydia

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that infects both men and women. In men it affects the urethra of the penis. In women Chlamydia affects the cervix, the upper reproductive organs, or the urethra, or some combination of all three. Chlamydia can also affect the rectum or the conjunctiva (the lining of the eyeball). Chlamydia is bacterial in nature and also the most common STD in the US

The bacterium responsible for Chlamydia is Chlamydia Trachomatis. Chlamydia and Gonorrhea are very similar and can sometimes be misdiagnosed as the other. It is also possible to be infected with both Chlamydia and Gonorrhea a the same time. The symptoms of Chlamydia can be silent, which means you may not know you have Chlamydia for a long time.

How Chlamydia Spreads

Chlamydia can be spread during any kind of sexual contact, including vaginal sexual intercourse and anal sex. It is also be possible to spread it during oral sex

A person infected with Chlamydia can infect their sexual partner at any time, even if symptoms are not present. The infected person is contagious until they have been treated by a medical professional. An important fact about Chlamydia is that you are not protected from future infections if you have had Chlamydia in the past and have been treated and cured. 

You will become infected every time you are exposed to this STD. 80% of women who become infected with Chlamydia will not show symptoms, whereas in men, only half will show no symptoms of being infected. This does not preclude them from spreading Chlamydia.

How to Prevent Chlamydia

Besides abstaining from sexual contact, how can you prevent chlamydia?

Using latex condoms each and every time during any sexual contact is one way to prevent chlamydia. This will lower your risk significantly if the condoms are properly used during all sexual encounters.

Having a long-term relationship that is monogamous for both partners is another good way. Of course, both partners need to be tested for chlamydia early on during the relationship to know that they are both uninfected from the start.

Symptoms of Chlamydia

The incubation period of this disease (the time it takes from exposure to the time you show symptoms) is anywhere from one week to fifteen months. The usual length of incubation of Chlamydia is one to three weeks. This is if symptoms appear at all. It is important to note that Chlamydia may not show symptoms until it has spread to other areas of the body.

Symptoms of Chlamydia are very similar to Gonorrhea and this STD can be misdiagnosed as such sometimes. Often the early symptoms of Chlamydia can be very mild. Chlamydia male and female symptoms are included below.

Symptoms of Chlamydia for Men:

A slimy or watery discharge from the penis.
Conjunctivitis. Pink-eye. This is a rare symptom, having conjunctivitis does not necessarily mean you have chlamydia.
Tenderness in the scrotum or anus.
A crust forming at the top of the penis.
Painful urination or an itching sensation when urinating. This is often the first symptom.
Cloudy urine.

Symptoms of Chlamydia for Women:

Abnormal vaginal discharge.
Painful or itchy urination. This is often the first symptom.
Abnormal bleeding during vaginal sex or between menses.
Irregular menstruation.
Genital itching.
Swollen Bartholin glands.
General tiredness and fever.
Lower abdominal pain.
Conjunctivitis.
Nausea.
Pain in the lumbar region of the back (lower back).

Chlamydia Diagnosis and Treatment

Chlamydia is diagnosed through an examination and a medical history. Samples of bodily fluids taken from the penis or vagina may also be taken for cultures to determine it definitively. A urine test may also be used, and is less invasive than taking fluids from the penis or the vagina. 

Chlamydia has no long- term effects as long as it is treated effectively and quickly. If Chlamydia is left untreated it can lead to many complications such as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease in women, infertility, and epididymitis. Chlamydia is treated using antibiotics. It is very important to take these as prescribed since the bacteria can build up a resistance to the antibiotics if taken improperly. This can make it much harder to treat.

 

For more information see these resources provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases:

National Library of Medicine
MedlinePlus
8600 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20894
1-800-338-7657
http://medlineplus.gov

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30333
1-888-232-3228
http://www.cdc.gov

CDC National STD and AIDS Hotline
1-800-227-8922 or 1-800-342-2437
http://www.ashastd.org/nah

American Social Health Association
P.O. Box 13827
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709-9940
919-361-8400
http://www.ashastd.org

The following resources are provided by the Center for Disease Control:

Division of STD Prevention (DSTDP)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
www.cdc.gov/std

Personal health inquiries and information about STDs:

CDC National STD and AIDS Hotlines
(800) 227-8922 or (800) 342-2437
En Espanol (800) 344-7432
TTY for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (800) 243-7889

Resources:

CDC National Prevention Information Network (NPIN)
P.O. Box 6003
Rockville, MD 20849-6003
1-800-458-5231
1-888-282-7681 Fax
1-800-243-7012 TTY
E-mail: info@cdcnpin.org
www.cdcnpin.org

American Social Health Association (ASHA)
P. O. Box 13827
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709-3827
1-800-783-9877
www.ashastd.org
STD questions: std-hivnet@ashastd.org

Chlamydia Summary

Chlamydia can be prevented, treated and cured. If you have the symptoms above or want to be sure that you are not infected, you and your partner should be tested for Chlamydia infection by a medical professional. 

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