Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that is typically spread through sexual contact. It can affect both men and women, and according to the CDC, there are about 4 million new cases of Chlamydia in the United States each year. Though Chlamydia is treatable with antibiotics, many patients go without treatment, either because the disease does not cause them to develop any symptoms, or because they are unaware that what they're experiencing is abnormal. If you're a man or women who is sexually active or plans to be in the near future, it's important to know a bit about Chlamydia, how it is spread, and how it is treated. These four facts will get you off to a good start.
The symptoms of Chlamydia vary from person to person.
Some people fail to seek treatment for Chlamydia because they talk to friends who have had it and figure that since their symptoms are different, they must not have the disease. However, the symptoms of Chlamydia can vary wildly between individuals. Males often show no symptoms, but possible symptoms can include:
- Pain in the testes
- A burning sensation during urination
- A white, clear, or yellow discharge from the penis
Women are more likely to show symptoms than men, and those symptoms often include:
- Painful intercourse
- Pain or a mild to moderate burning sensation during urination
- A yellow vaginal discharge or excessive white vaginal discharge
- Abdominal pain
- Bleeding or spotting between periods
You can get a Chlamydia infection in your throat, rectum or eye.
Chlamydia is not just spread through vaginal sex. It can also be spread through anal or oral sex, too. If you have oral sex with a person infected with Chlamydia, you may develop a throat infection that causes burning of the throat, coughing, and itching. If you have anal sex with someone who has Chlamydia, you may develop an infection in your rectum or anus, leading to discharge, pain during defecation, bleeding, and discomfort when sitting.
Chlamydia can also cause conjunctivitis or pink eye. Generally, Chlamydia of the eye happens when vaginal or penile fluids are accidentally introduced to the eye during intercourse. Symptoms include redness of the eye, a yellow discharge from the eye, and swollen eyelids.
These infections are treated the same way as Chlamydia infections of the reproductive organs: with antibiotics. Tetracycline is typically used, though erythromycin or doxycycline may be used in patients who do not tolerate tetracycline well.
Pregnant women can pass on Chlamydia to their babies, with deadly consequences.
If you have Chlamydia and leave it untreated and then you become pregnant, you are putting your child at risk. About half of babies born to mothers who are infected with Chlamydia end up contracting Chlamydia, and this can have deadly consequences. Between 5 and 30 percent of babies who contract Chlamydia during birth develop pneumonia, which is dangerous and hard to treat in newborns.
Sometimes, babies of mothers who have Chlamydia do not even make it to their due date. Pregnant women with Chlamydia often have preterm births, miscarriages, and leaking of the amniotic fluid. If you've been sexually active with multiple partners and are now thinking of becoming pregnant, it's wise to be tested for Chlamydia first, just to ensure the safety of your baby.
Condoms do not entirely eliminate the risk of contracting Chlamydia from an infected partner.
It is always wise to use condoms during sex, as they reduce the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection. However, it's important to understand that using condoms does not make it impossible for you to contract Chlamydia. In one study, 10% of participants who used condoms correctly and consistently still contracted Chlamydia after having intercourse with an infected partner.
If you're suffering from what you expect to be symptoms of Chlamydia, get tested whether or not you used a condom during intercourse. You should also get tested yearly regardless of the presence or absence of symptoms and regardless of your condom use. Of course, you should also continue to use condoms, since they do reduce your risk of Chlamydia and other STIs.
Chlamydia is a common, yet curable, STI that affects men, women, and unborn children. Be sure to get tested for this disease regularly if you're sexually active. You'll be protecting your future children and your future partners, as well as your own body.
For more information about getting tested and treated, visit http://www.centraliowaobgyn.com.