Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the world. It affects both women and men, but it has more lasting effects on women. It can permanently damage a woman’s reproductive system which will make it difficult or impossible for them to get pregnant later. It’s dangerous for pregnant women because it can cause fatal ectopic pregnancy – when the fetus is implanted outside of the uterus.
What is Chlamydia?
Chlamydia is caused by a bacterium known as trachomatis. You can catch this bacterium by having vaginal, oral, or anal sex with someone who’s infected with chlamydia. In women, it can happen in the cervix, throat, or rectum. Men can be infected in their rectum, throat, or urethra inside the penis. The transfer of the bacteria can happen even without ejaculation.
Like other STIs, chlamydia doesn’t always show any symptoms. Sometimes, it takes weeks for symptoms to appear. Either way, the bacteria can damage your reproductive system. It’s contagious despite symptoms. Women with chlamydia can witness abnormal vaginal discharge that may have a strong smell. They can have a burning sensation when they urinate. They can also experience pain during sexual intercourse. When the infection spreads, it will cause abdominal pain, nausea, or fever.
Men with chlamydia can witness discharge from their penis. They can have a burning sensation when they urinate. They can have pain and swelling in one of both testicles. They will also experience burning and itching sensations on or around the penis area. Symptoms in the rectum are similar in both women and men. This can happen either by anal sex or the infection spreading from other infected sites like the vagina or penis. Chlamydia in the rectum causes rectal pain, discharge, or bleeding.
You should visit a doctor and get tested if you notice any of these symptoms. Other common STI symptoms include bleeding between menstrual periods and unusual sore. You should get tested if you have any doubts.
Chlamydia can cause long-term problems for infected people who don’t get treated. The infection can spread throughout your body. In women, it can affect your uterus and fallopian tubes and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID can cause infertility, pelvic pain, and ectopic pregnancy. It will infect the baby during delivery. If you get chlamydia multiple times, the damages in your reproductive systems will increase.
Most men affected by chlamydia don’t get health problems. However, many become infected in the epididymis – the tube that carries sperm. It will become inflamed and cause scrotal pain and swelling, fever, and in rare cases, infertility. The infection can spread to the prostate gland and cause painful urination and lower back pain. Men can sometimes experience pain during or after sex. People with chlamydia can develop Reiter’s syndrome which is reactive arthritis. It will affect joints, eye, and urethra. Having chlamydia put you at higher risk to get other STIs such as HIV.
Chlamydia and all other STIs are primarily transferred during unprotected sex with someone who’s infected. The first prevention method is abstinence. People who don’t have anal, oral, and vaginal sex will not get infected with an STI. However, most people are sexually active. If you’re sexually active, you must use a condom every time you have sex to prevent catching any STIs. It’s important to know how to use the condom the right way. Misusing a condom is as dangerous as not using one at all.
Another method is to practice long-term monogamy. Monogamy is to be sexually active with only one person over an extended period of time. People who are in monogamous relationships only need to be tested once, when they first get together. If the tests are negative, they just must trust each other and stay together to guarantee that they don’t get infected. Chlamydia is most common among sexually active young people due to behavioral and biological factors. Gay or bisexual men are also at high risks of getting chlamydia. You can still get chlamydia if you had previously been infected and treated. Douching also increases your chances of getting infected since it destroys the good bacteria in the vagina.
It’s important for pregnant women to get tested for chlamydia during their first prenatal checkups. The infection can cause them to have the baby too early which will decrease the chances of the baby surviving. The mother can give chlamydia to their newborn during childbirth. A baby born with the chlamydia infection will have an eye infection or pneumonia. It’s important to get tested regularly if you’re a sexually active person with multiple sexual partners. You should also get tested regularly if you’re in monogamous relationship with someone who’s infected. Pregnant women and gay men should also get tested.
Chlamydia is curable with antibiotics. Once you’ve been tested positive with the infection, your doctor will prescribe the cure. The doctor can prescribe the one-dose pill or the pill that you must take for about five to ten days. Both medicines will cure the infection. However, you should abstain from sexual activities until the treatment is completely. You can resume your sexual activities after at least seven days. Your partner should also be treated even if they don’t show any symptoms. If you have the pill to take over a couple of days, you must take it regularly and take all of them.
You shouldn’t share your pills with anyone else. Missing one dosage can cause the treatment to fail. The pill can protect you from having long-term problems if taken early. However, if the infection already damaged your reproductive system, the medicine cannot reverse the damages. It’s important to know that you can get reinfected. You should be tested about three months after your treatment. You should be using a condom properly for the first few weeks after treatment because the bacteria can keep being transferred back and forth between partners.