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With no outward symptoms in the early stage, chlamydia remains one of the most common sexually transmitted infections. This is because it is passed on to partners unknowingly through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex. This silent killer can lead to serious or permanent damage to a woman’s reproductive system.
If the infection remains untreated, it can spread to the uterus and fallopian tubes causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) which can cause permanent damage. This can lead to long-term pelvic pain, infertility and ectopic pregnancy which is a life threatening condition.
FACTS ABOUT CHLAMYDIA:
- Chlamydia is caused by a bacterium called chlamydia trachomatis that is spread through incidental contact, sexually or orally.
- Affecting both sexes, women can get chlamydia in the cervix, rectum or throat while men can get chlamydia in the urethra (inside the penis), rectum or throat as well.
- Newborn babies can acquire chlamydia from an infected mother during childbirth and while it may not be common, one can get the infection in the eye through oral or genital contact with the eyes.
- Those at the highest risk of infection are sexually active young adults especially women under the age of 25, women with multiple partners and gay men.
- According to healthline.com, infection rates are highest among younger women partly because their immature cervical cells are more vulnerable to infection.
- One of the most common myths about chlamydia is that it cannot be cured. Not so. Antibiotics can be used to rid the body of this infection.
With no apparent signs until much later in its development, the following symptoms may become noticeable weeks after infection.
Men experience small amounts of clear or cloudy discharge from the tip of the penis, painful urination, burning and itching around the opening of the penis and albeit less common, pain and swelling in one or both testicles.
Women on the other hand experience abnormal vaginal discharge that may have an odor, bleeding between periods, painful periods, abdominal pain with fever, pain when having sex (dyspareunia), itching or burning in or around the vagina and pain when urinating. In some instances, the infection may spread to the fallopian tubes causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). The symptoms of PID include fever, severe pelvic pain, nausea and abnormal vaginal bleeding between periods.
When a person is infected in the anus, the main symptoms are discharge, pain and bleeding from that part of the body.
For those who may have contracted chlamydia orally, one may notice a sore throat, cough or fever.
Doctors use lab tests to determine whether one is infected or not. They may ask you for a urine sample to check for the presence of the bacteria or a vaginal swab in women, and at times a sample from the urethra in men. If one is suspected to have an infection in the throat, that is swabbed too.
Depending on the severity, the doctor will prescribe the recommended dosage of antibiotics which must be followed to the tee and one should refrain from sexual activity to avoid reinfection.
But good news is, the infection should clear up in about a week or so after treatment.
However, women with severe chlamydia may be put on pain medicine and intravenous antibiotics (medicine given through a vein).
Once treatment has commenced it is advisable to be re-tested after three months to be sure the infection is cured.