Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection caused by bacteria known as ‘Chlamydia trachomatis’. The disease, which affects both men and women, is spread by having unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex with an infected person. It is also transferred to newborn babies from infected mothers.
Most people infected chlamydia don’t notice any symptoms and so they don’t know they have it. Research suggests that 50 per cent of men and 70-80 per cent of women don’t get symptoms at all with an infection. They can pass it to others without knowing it. If a pregnant woman has chlamydia, it can be passed to her baby during birth.
A big problem with chlamydia is that it often produces no symptoms. If left undetected and untreated, complications can occur. People who have the disease can still transmit the infection, even if they don’t have any symptoms themselves. When symptoms do occur, they may not appear until several weeks after having sex with an infected person.
Women: They frequently develop abdominal or chronic pelvic pain and the continued spread of the disease. Other symptoms are burning desire to urinate, an abnormal vaginal discharge, blood in the urine, urinary urgency (feeling an urgent need to urinate) and increased urinary frequency can occur if the urethra is infected.
Men: Chlamydia can be difficult to spot in men because the symptoms are rare and not consistent between men. More common symptoms include a white, cloudy or watery discharge from the tip of the penis, difficulty or pain during urination, swollen and sore testicles.
Newborn: Pregnant women infected with chlamydia can pass the infection to their babies during childbirth. This could result in the baby developing conjunctivitis (eye infections) and pneumonia (chest infections).
Women: If it isn’t treated, the infection can sometimes spread to other parts of the body and lead to serious long-term health problems, such as pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy (in which a pregnancy develops outside the uterus, such as in the fallopian tubes) and infertility (not being able to have children), due to infection and scarring of the fallopian tubes.
Men: If left untreated, chlamydia can cause internal scarring of the genitals, a lower sperm count with less fertile sperm, and can lead to additional health conditions.
Newborn: Chlamydia can lead to blindness or complicated pneumonia in the newborn baby.
If you think there is a chance you might have chlamydia, getting tested early on is important, and so is avoiding spreading it to others. Testing for the infection is done with a urine test for men. Women can have a urine test or a swab taken from the cervix or vagina. Treatment normally involves antibiotic drugs.
Chlamydia can be cured with the right treatment. If your doctor detects c the infection, it can usually be treated with special class of antibiotics. It is important that you take all of the medication your doctor prescribes to cure the infection. When taken properly it will stop the infection and could decrease your chances of having complications later on.
It is advisable for infected persons to avoid having sex while taking the antibiotics for a week so that he or she does not pass on the infection to someone else or become re-infected. It is recommended that the infected person do another test for chlamydia three months later to make sure there is no re-infection. Anyone who has had sex with an infected person in the past six months should also be tested and may need treatment at the same time. This is called contact tracing.
As Chlamydia is transmitted through unprotected sex, the doctor may suggest that you undergo screening for other sexually transmitted infections and if necessary, you and your partner(s) treated.
Having oral sex or anal sex with someone who has chlamydia can result in infection of the throat or the rectum, thereby causing pain and a discharge of pus or mucus that could be painful when you urinate, an unusual discharge from the penis, vagina or rectum or, in women, bleeding between periods or after sex.
One can getting infected with chlamydia (and other sexually transmitted infections) by practising safe sex. This means using a condom during vaginal or anal sex.
The universal method of prevention of sexually transmitted infections is the ‘ABC’tip.
B–Be Faithful to a partner who is also faithful to you
C–Condoms: Use them correctly.