Chlamydia is the most common Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) in the United States. Women under the age of 25 are especially at risk of a chlamydia infection. Left untreated, chlamydia can cause severe complications in both men and women but is particularly harmful to women and can, in some cases, become life threatening.
More alarmingly, recent studies suggest that women who have had or are currently infected with chlamydia could have a 50% increased risk of ovarian cancer. Click here to see Dr. Bobby Lazarra, the lead physician at STDAware, present a Medical New Minute on the relationship between chlamydia and ovarian cancer.
Chlamydia is more often diagnosed in females, but this is most likely due to the fact that males are generally asymptomatic and may go undiagnosed for a more prolonged period of time. The asymptomatic nature of chlamydia is the most significant contributing factor to how prevalent chlamydia is in America today. Because it easily transmitted without the knowledge of either sexual partner, regular STD testing is critical in both men and women. Identification of chlamydia is the only way to treat and stop the spread of the disease. STDAware offers no-cost treatment solutions for individuals who test positive for a chlamydia infection.
What Is Chlamydia And How Is It Transmitted?
Chlamydia Trachomatis is a bacterium that acts like a virus. When this virus enters the human body, it initially reacts by producing antibodies to help fight the infection. Even though these antibodies aid in fighting off the disease they are not sufficient to rid the body of chlamydia.
Chlamydia is transmitted, like any other STD, through the exchange of bodily fluids, or skin-to-skin contact with a mucous membrane (such as the vagina, anus, mouth or throat). Chlamydia typically attacks the cervix, urethra, urinary tract and rectum, and in some cases the mouth, throat, and eyes. Infertility, reproductive issues, damage to the lungs, throat, and eyes can occur if left untreated.
If symptoms are present, the most commonly reported symptoms of chlamydia in women are:
- Lower back or abdominal pain
- Nausea or fever
- Bleeding and/or pain during sex
- Abnormal spotting or blood flow between menstrual cycles
- Abnormal vaginal discharge; may change to milky white or yellow in color (instead of clear) and have a strong odor
- Burning sensation when urinating or sudden urges to urinate. These symptoms are often mistaken for a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection)
- Painful intercourse
- Pain or bleeding after sex
- Sore or hoarse throat known as dysphagia (in cases of oral chlamydia infections)
- If chlamydia infects the eyes, burning and irritation of the eyes and eyelids is reported. In advanced cases, blurred vision and clouding of the cornea may occur
Some of the symptoms of chlamydia can be mistaken for other less serious medical issues. If left untreated, chlamydia can attack the cervix and move into the ovaries. It can also damage or scar the fallopian tubes, the hairs lining the fallopian tubes that assist the eggs from the ovaries to the womb, and lead to infertility or a condition called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID is a serious condition that can be life-threatening.
The only way to know if you have a chlamydia infection is to get tested. All sexually active individuals should be routinely screened for chlamydia and other STDs as part of their regular well checks, and anytime there is a change in sexual partner or habits.
STDAware offers full panel and individual testing options. Click here to find out how quick, easy and painless testing through STDAware can be.
Pregnancy and Chlamydia
Chlamydia is commonly found in pregnant women.1 Testing for chlamydia and other STDs is suggested for anyone who is planning on, or who has become pregnant. Most doctors will routinely test for chlamydia during the first trimester, but if it is not addressed, it should be requested so that the infection is not passed on during childbirth. Additionally, a woman should be retested during the third trimester if she is at high risk of a chlamydia infection (under the age of 25 or had a change it a sexual partner).2
Chlamydia infection during pregnancy has been linked to infections of the amniotic fluid, preterm birth, preterm premature rupture of the membranes (PPRM), which is when the water breaks early, or the cervix opens without contractions3, and miscarriage. Approximately 50% of babies delivered vaginally from an infected mother will contract chlamydia in their eyes or respiratory tract (presented as pneumonia) or both4 and can also attack the infant’s urogenital tract and rectum and persist for 2-3 years even with treatment5. This is particularly alarming in the instance(s) that a chlamydia infection contributes to premature labor and the infant is born with an already compromised immune system. However, infants who are appropriately identified as having chlamydia infections shortly after birth are easily treated and have a high rate of recovery. In most American hospitals, when an infant is born vaginally, it is standard to apply ointment on the baby’s eyes to treat and prevent both gonorrhea and chlamydia.
Testing and treatment is vital for any woman and especially for a pregnant woman and the baby’s health. Untreated infections increase the risk of postnatal uterine infection. Treatment for cases of prenatal chlamydia is only about 90% effective6, making a standard “test-to-cure” test (testing to ensure successful treatment) necessary 3-4 weeks after treatment is completed along with a follow up test 3 months after initial testing to prevent postnatal complications7. Any sexual partner(s) should also be tested and treated to ensure that reinfection does not occur.
Testing and Treatment
Routine chlamydia and STD screenings are advised for any sexually active individual who is not in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship. Any change in sexual partner(s) should initiate both partners being screened. Having the safe sex practice of requiring an STD test before sexual intercourse will significantly reduce the instance of infection, and spread of any STD.
In the event that someone tests positive for an STD, any sexual partners should be notified and tested immediately. Honest and open communication is a major factor in sexual health. For more tips on talking to partners about sex and STD testing click here.
The fact that routine testing is especially important when it comes to chlamydia because it does not always present symptoms (making it easy to unknowingly contract the disease) cannot be overstated.
Chlamydia is easy to diagnose with a simple, standard urine test. STDAware has provided a simple and quick testing process that does not include embarrassing trips to the doctor. Get tested today and receive results within 48 hours.
Test results for chlamydia will state either “detected” or “not detected.” Test results of, “not detected,” indicate that there is no infection. Test results that say “detected” means that chlamydia is present in the body and requires treatment. Chlamydia is a treatable STD with a prescription antibiotic. Depending on an individual’s health history, antibiotics will typically be prescribed as a single or 7-day regimen.
Treatment will clear the body of the infection at the given time. However, it is important to know that successful treatment of a chlamydia infection does not make an individual immune to the disease and it does not undo any damage to the body that may have been caused by chlamydia prior to treatment. The rate of re-infection (meaning the infection comes back even after treatment) for chlamydia is high, making it critical to abstain from sex for seven days after both sexual partners are tested and treated. A follow-up test to confirm that the infection is fully eradicated from the body is recommended within two weeks to 3 months after the initial treatment.
STDAware offers no-cost consultation and prescription services to anyone who tests positive for a Chlamydia infection. Click here to learn more.
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