Table of Contents
Definition of Chlamydia
Illness resulting from infection with the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STDS) in the United States, infecting an estimated three million people each year. However, fewer than a third seek treatment because their symptoms are mild or they do not have symptoms and do not know they have chlamydia.
Half of men and two thirds of women who have chlamydia experience no symptoms, though they nonetheless pass the infection to their sex partners. Doctors sometimes call chlamydia the “silent STD” for this reason.
A woman may also transmit chlamydia to her infant during vaginal childbirth.
Symptoms and Diagnostic Path
When symptoms are present, they generally appear within three weeks of exposure. Men may experience a discharge from the penis and pain with urination. Women may experience vaginal discharge and burning with urination in the early stages of infection, and later may have pelvic pain, low back pain, discomfort or pain with sexual intercourse, and vaginal bleeding between periods.
The diagnostic path includes a physical examination (with pelvic examination for women) and laboratory testing of discharge samples to detect the presence of C. trachomatis bacteria. Because chlamydia often does not cause symptoms, diagnosis may occur as a consequence of routine medical examination.
Treatment Options and Outlook
Treatment is with oral (by mouth) antibiotic medications. It is important for sex partners to also receive treatment because when they do not, reinfection will occur. Appropriate antibiotic therapy eliminates the infection. People who receive treatment recover fully. However, scarring and other damage that occurs because of long-term infection in a woman is typically permanent, and can result in infertility.
Untreated chlamydia has significant consequences for women, about half of whom develop pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID is a leading cause of ectopic pregnancy and of infertility. The infection damages and scars tissue in the fallopian tubes, blocking the pathway by which OVA (eggs) travel from the ovaries to the uterus. Scarring may also affect the uterus, preventing implantation in the earliest stages of pregnancy. Untreated chlamydia increases a woman’s risk for HIV infection.
Antibiotic Medications to Treat Chlamydia
|ANTIBIOTIC MEDICATIONS TO TREAT CHLAMYDIA|
Risk Factors and Preventive Measures for infence chlamydia
Nearly all chlamydia infections in adults occur as a result of vaginal, oral, or anal sex with someone who has the infection. Women in particular often are reinfected after they receive treatment but their sex partners do not. Infants may acquire chlamydia from their mothers during birth and may develop chlamydial conjunctivitis (infection of the tissues around the eyes) or pneumonia.
Safer sex practices, such as monogamous relationships and condom use, are the most effective measures for preventing chlamydia. Health experts recommend annual chlamydia screening for sexually active women who are under age 25 or have multiple sex partners.
Page last reviewed: