Chlamydia is the most diagnosed sexually transmitted disease (STD) in many countries. Also, it seems that half of all U.S. citizens will get at least one sexually transmitted disease during the lifetime. Research shows that Chlamydia represents almost half of all new STD diagnosed and reported cases. This article aims to show the main facts about this annoying disease and ways to overcome it without consequences.
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What is Chlamydia?
It is estimated that more than four million Americans (1.5 million reported cases) suffer Chlamydia every year which makes it the most common bacterial STD in the US. The highest rates of infection are reported among young adults and teens. Only after appropriate testing, you can be sure that you have Chlamydia since symptoms usually are not present. Doctors recommend annual screening for all sexually active women age under 25 and for those over age 25 who have risk characteristics for Chlamydia (new or multiple sex partners). It is the same if we are talking about men.
Although it is pretty easy to get rid of Chlamydia using antibiotics, it is an insurmountable problem because 50% of women don’t even have a clue that they are infected. To make things worse, in 30% of all cases these bacteria cause serious complications such as damage to the fallopian tubes which may lead to infertility or ectopic pregnancy.
If Chlamydia is not treated properly during pregnancy, it may provoke premature birth. There is a horrible possibility that infection passes on to an unborn baby who can be born with conjunctivitis and/or pneumonia. In some cases, baby can be born blind.
As for men, 50% of them haven’t any symptom but can suffer inflammation of the testicles which consequently lead to sterility. One additional problem is that the infected persons can transmit Chlamydia to their partners from the beginning of infection until the end of the treatment no matter if they have symptoms or not.
6 Ways of Transmission
The cause of this sexually transmitted disease known as Chlamydia infection is bacteria Chlamydia Trachomatis. Bacteria are present in the mucous membranes at the infected spot (vagina, rectum, urethra, and the mouth) in the body of an infected person. These membranes emit fluid with Chlamydia Trachomatis, plus it is not rare that bacteria are present in semen. The illness is transmitted when an infected person comes into contact with a healthy one.
The easiest way of Chlamydia transmission is during oral, vaginal, and anal sex. The transmission rate from single unprotected intercourse is more than 25% which is one more reason to avoid unprotected sex both vaginal and anal.
1 – Unprotected vaginal sex
From male-to-female Chlamydia pass through infected sperm. From female-to-male, it passes by genital tissue contact or through vaginal fluid. I have to warn you, lack of ejaculation is not a way of prevention. It is possible for the infection to be transferred from one person to another without ejaculation because the bacteria are present in mucous membranes. Some respectable experts claim that male-to-female transmission rate during one intercourse is up to 40% and the transmission rate from female-to-male is about 32%.
2 – Unprotected anal sex
The disease occurs when the penis of the healthy partner is in contact with the tissue in the infected person’s rectum. The other way is through infected sperm. Believe or not, even you haven’t had anal sex you can get Chlamydia in the rectum or anus because bacteria can be spread when you use toilet paper for example.
3 – Unprotected oral sex
The infection can be expanded during oral contact in two different ways. From male-to-female and male-to-male by infected sperm or from female-to-male or male-to-male through infected tissues in the mouth to the partner’s penis.
The good thing is that this type of transmission is sporadic because the genital tissue is more vulnerable to infection from these bacteria than tissue in the mouth or throat. All other routes including the mouth-to-vagina, mouth-to-penis, mouth-to-anus, and vice versa are only theoretically possible.
4 – Mother to the baby
Chlamydia increases the likelihood of complications during pregnancy. The horrifying fact is that the bacteria leisurely pass from an infected mother to a newborn baby. When the birth canal is infected, the infection of the baby is more than possible during vaginal childbirth.
5 – Sharing sex toys
Unfortunately, you can also get this STD by sharing sex toys. It occurs when infected vaginal fluid or semen are transferred onto the surface of a sex toy from an infected person. When the other partner uses the same toy, he/she will be infected.
6 – Eye infection
It is possible getting an eye infection when infected sperm which carries Chlamydia Trachomatis comes into the partner’s eye during sex. Sometimes there are cases when a hand-to-eye contact occurs and cause a problem. Bacteria usually cause conjunctivitis with inflamed and reddened tissues around the eye.
- The fact is that any sexually active person can be infected very easily especially those who have the high number of sex partners. Sexually active young women and teenage girls, whose cervix is not fully matured, have a particularly high level of risk for this infection. Also, Chlamydial infection is the common disease of homosexuals since Chlamydia can be transmitted by anal or oral sex too.
- Diagnosis of Chlamydia in children is almost always a sign of sexual abuse.
- Aggravating circumstances:
- Transmission is possible even when no symptoms appear.
- When you get symptoms, you should be prepared that they will affect your general health and well-being.
- Chlamydia is not a disease of a particular group of people. It affects people of any age, gender, and sexual orientation.
- The sad truth is that Chlamydia Trachomatis infects one in twenty sexually active young women aged 14-24 years.
- You can’t be completely cured of Chlamydia. It can occur again and again in your life.
- You can easily confuse Chlamydia with Gonorrhea because both infections have similar symptoms and cause similar complications if you don’t treat them appropriately. The problem is that ways of their treatments are not the same.
- Complications of Chlamydia include cervicitis, pelvic inflammatory disease, and salpingitis in women; and epididymitis and urethritis in men.
As a result of symptomatic or asymptomatic Chlamydial infections, both sexes can develop reactive arthritis, Reiter’s Syndrome (a triad of symptoms with conjunctivitis, reactive arthritis, and urethritis), Fitz-Hugh-Curtis Syndrome (perihepatitis) and so on. I have one more thing to say. Please, think twice before you decide to claim to your doctor that you are not sexually active if Chlamydia is diagnosed. Chlamydia is sexually transmitted disease, and you can’t get it by touching things such as toilet seat or by shaking someone’s hands!
Symptoms of a Chlamydia Infection
In many cases, Chlamydia doesn’t produce symptoms in the infected person. In fact, five in ten men and seven in ten women won’t develop any noticeable signs of infection. That is the reason why many doctors named it – a ‘silent infection’. The problem is that lack of symptoms doesn’t make the infected person less infectious.
However, in cases when symptoms appear, they can be variable. If the infection occurs in the throat or anus, the most guys won’t even notice that something is wrong. When symptoms appear, it can be in any period between of 2-21 days. Their range can be very wide from mild discomfort to pain. Don’t forget that the symptoms of Chlamydia are similar to symptoms caused by bacterium Neisseria Gonorrhoeae, and you should visit your doctor if notice one or many of them.
If you are a woman, you should go to test yourself for STD if you notice these symptoms:
- Abnormal, yellow, and smelly vaginal discharge.
- Painful periods.
- Pain while urinating and/or abdominal pain followed by low-grade temperature.
- Unusual pain during the intercourse.
- Bleeding between your periods and/or after intercourse.
- Discomfort with urinating.
- Burning and itching in the vagina or around it.
If you are a man, you should go to test yourself for STD if you notice these symptoms:
- A white watery or cloudy discharge from the tip of your penis.
- Feeling any kind of discomfort including itching or painful urination.
- Swelling, pain, and redness of your testicles.
- Pain, redness, burning, itching, and/or tingling along the urethra and/or around the opening of your penis.
Bleeding or other types of discharge from the anus.
The Ways for Diagnosing a Chlamydia Infection
If you are sexually active, it is essential for you to do the tests for STDs regularly. There are a few different tests for Chlamydia including the newest ones called ‘Nucleic acid amplification test’ or NAAT. It is easy to take and very accurate. Also, it would be an excellent decision to speak to your healthcare provider about other available testing options including swab or urine test.
Doctors still prefer swab tests. They take a sample from men’s urethra or women’s cervix and send it to a laboratory for analyzing. The urine test involves examining the urine sample for the presence of Chlamydia Trachomatis. Because the symptoms of Chlamydia and Gonorrhea are the same, patients often chose to take treatments for both diseases at the same time since the cost of testing is higher than the price of treatment. You can ask your doctor to do any of these tests or to go to a sexual health clinic. For the residents of Washington DC, Alaska, and Maryland, there is a possibility of free at-home Chlamydia test.
Treatment of a Chlamydia Infection
If you suspect that you have been exposed to Chlamydia, try to get tested as soon as possible. It is the only way to be sure if you are infected and to be treated on time if necessary. Treatment of the infection caused by Chlamydia Trachomatis is easy and simple. It is treated with adequate doses of antibiotics.
In some cases, you may need to take antibiotics multiple times a day during five to ten days. In most cases, you will need one to two weeks on average to resolve the infection. Sometimes, women with a severe infection have to stay at the hospital for a while because they need intravenous antibiotics and very often some pain medicine. Pay attention that your sexual partner also needs treatment regardless she/he has or hasn’t symptoms of infection. Plus, you need to abstain from sex during the treatment period. Unfortunately, there is no immunity against future re-infection, and it is possible that you may still be at risk of re-infection even though you have received adequate treatment. That usually happens if you have sexual intercourse with a partner who hasn’t treated for Chlamydia.
- I can’t emphasize enough the importance of getting re-tested for Chlamydia 14 days after your treatment (which means 21 – 28 days after the initial infection). In fact, doctors recommend both you and your partner to get tested. If you do everything adequately, there is a high probability that both of you are Chlamydia-free.
- The Ways You Can Reduce the Risk of Chlamydia Infection
- Practically the only way to reduce the risk of getting and passing the Chlamydia infection is – using condoms! They are 99% effective at reducing the transmission of all STDs.
- You need to use your own sex toys or to disinfect them before using if they belong to someone else.
- Maintain hygiene at a high level after sexual intercourse, especially if more partners participate in a sexual game.
- Limit the number of sex partners.
If you think you are infected, visit a doctor and avoid sexual contacts until finish the treatment.
This ‘silent’ infection appears among most racial/ethnic groups, age groups, both sexes, and all geographic areas. The most infected people don’t have any symptoms. This disease is easy to prevent, it’s uncomplicated to detect by using reliable tests, and it’s very treatable. Don’t waste your time. If you have put yourself in any kind of risk, get tested.