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What is Chlamydia?
Chlamydia is a curable sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. With about 2,800,000 new reported cases every year, Chlamydia has become the most commonly diagnosed sexually transmitted disease in the United States.1 Infection from Chlamydia can be “silently” spread from one person to another because infection usually lacks symptoms, especially in women. Chlamydia is curable, but can cause infertility in both men and women if left untreated. Chlamydia is commonly mispelled and may be seen as Clamidia, Clamydia, or Chlamidia.
How is Chlamydia Transmitted or Spread?
Chlamydia is easily spread from person to person through sexual contact, often unknowingly because of the lack of symptoms. Chlamydia can also be passed from a mother to her baby during childbirth, which may cause infection in the baby's eyes or respiratory tract and often leads to pneumonia.
Chlamydia Symptoms in Men:
Some reported symptoms are pain, fever, discharge from the penis, and sterility in rare cases.1 It is important to receive treatment for Chlamydia if you have become infected, because the infection could still be spread to others. Ask your doctor about necessary testing if you are sexually active.
Chlamydia Symptoms in Women:
Chlamydia is dangerous to women's reproductive health. The initial infection takes place in the endocervix, the center passageway between the uterus and the vagina. An untreated infection spreads into the upper reproductive tract, and can cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) and/or infertility. Infection can also lead to eptopic pregnancy.
Commonly reported symptoms in women are dull pelvic pain, painful intercourse, burning or pain during urination, bleeding between periods, and/or unusual vaginal discharge. Ask your doctor about necessary testing if you are sexually active.
How to Prevent Chlamydia?
How can I prevent a Chlamydia infection? Abstinence is the best way to prevent the transmission of any sexually transmitted disease. If you are sexually active, condoms are a helpful preventative measure if used correctly each time. The risk of infection for any STD, including Chlamydia, is significantly lowered if you both you and your partner have been tested (at home testing kits), and are only having sex with each other. People who engage in risky sexual behavior, having sex with people they don't know, or don't know very well, are at a much greater risk for contracting STDs. People who regularly use drugs and alcohol are at a higher risk for contracting sexually transmitted diseases, including Chlamydia, because they are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior. Please read more about STD transmission and prevention here.
How to Treat or Cure Chlamydia?
Yes Chlamydia is curable. So you ask, how is Chlamydia Treated? Due to the high rates of infection and danger to women's health, doctors recommend that sexually active women obtain testing yearly, or with each new sexual partner. Men can request testing from their primary care physician. Urine tests are now available for both men and women through select clinics. Chlamydia is curable, and is treated with antibiotics. When you receive your prescription, follow the directions carefully, make sure to finish all of your medication, and do not share it with your partner or anyone else. If you still have symptoms after treatment, go back to the doctor as you may have a lingering infection. Your partner needs to go to the doctor and obtain medication as well, for they are most likely infected. It is possible to become infected again from an untreated partner, or a new infected partner. It is also possible to infect someone during your treatment, so it is wise to avoid sexual contact while you are finishing your medication. Be sure to inform your recent sex partners of your diagnosis so that they can receive treatment as well. Tetracycline drugs cause sun sensitivity, so while you are on your medication, protect your skin from heavy sun exposure. Chlamydia, along with Gonorrhea and Syphilis, make an individual more physically susceptible to HIV infection should you come into contact with the virus.
Special note for Women: Douching is never a good idea because it disturbs the balance of naturally occurring bacteria in your uterus, which prevents many types of vaginal infections. In the case of a bacterial infection such as Chlamydia, it is especially important that you do not douche, as it will push the infection further into your urogenital tract, increasing the possibility of an infection in your upper reproductive tract that can be painful and often difficult to treat.
What should I expect from my doctor?
Chlamydia in Women: Your doctor will perform a swab test of your cervix. This can be performed during your routine pap exam, or you can speak to your physician about available testing. Do not assume that your pap exam will include any STD screening, it must usually be requested in addition. Results are usually available within 3-5 days. If you test positive for Chlamydia, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics. Most commonly, Doxycycline or another derivation of a Tetracycline antibiotic will be prescribed. Tetracycline drugs cause sun sensitivity, so while you are on your medication, protect your skin from heavy sun exposure.
Chlamydia in Men: Your doctor will perform a swab of your urethra. Results are usually available within 3-5 days. If you test positive for Chlamydia, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics. Commonly prescribed drugs are those related to Tetracycline, such as Doxycycline. Tetracycline drugs cause sun sensitivity, so while you are on your medication, protect your skin from heavy sun exposure.
Division of STD Prevention (DSTDP)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Order Publication Online at www.cdc.gov/std/pubs
CDC-INFO Contact Center
CDC National Prevention Information Network (NPIN)
P.O. Box 6003
Rockville, MD 20849-6003
American Social Health Association (ASHA)
P.O. Box 13827
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709-3827