Chlamydia is a very common infection transmitted by sexual contact. It can cause infertility if not treated. The symptoms may not be noticed, or they may be vague and nonspecific. Some people have no symptoms at all. When symptoms are present, they can include burning or itching of the genitals, discharge, or painful urination. Chlamydia infections can also develop in the rectum and throat.
Chlamydia is caused by bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis. The 15 varieties of C. trachomatis because a range of diseases, from sexually transmitted diseases to a leading cause of infectious blindness, trachoma.
You can get a chlamydial infection during oral, vaginal, or anal sexual contact with an infected partner.
Chlamydia bacteria can live in vaginal fluid and in semen. About 70 percent of chlamydial infections have no symptoms, thereby naming it the "silent" disease. Symptoms usually appear within 1 to 3 weeks after you are infected. Those who do have symptoms may have an abnormal discharge (mucus or pus) from the vagina or penis or experience pain while urinating. These early symptoms may be very mild.
The bacterial infection may move inside your body if it is not treated.
►In women, bacteria can infect the cervix and urinary tract. If the bacteria move into the fallopian tubes, they can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
►In men, bacteria can infect the urinary tract and the epididymis, causing epididymitis (inflammation of the reproductive area near the testicles).
PID and epididymitis are both very serious illnesses.C. trachomatis also can cause inflammation of your rectum and lining of your eye (conjunctivitis or "pink eye"). The bacteria can infect your throat if you have oral sexual contact with an infected partner.
Chlamydia is easily confused with gonorrhea because the symptoms of both diseases are similar and the diseases can occur at the same time.The most reliable ways to find out whether the infection is chlamydia are through laboratory tests.
►A healthcare provider may collect a sample of fluid from the vagina or penis and send it to a laboratory that will look for the bacteria.
►Another test looks for the bacteria in a urine sample and does not require a pelvic exam or swabbing of the penis. Results are usually available within 24 hours.
If you are infected with C. trachomatis, your healthcare provider will probably give you a prescription for an antibiotic. Healthcare providers may treat pregnant women with azithromycin, erythromycin, or sometimes with amoxicillin. Penicillin, which healthcare providers often use to treat some other sexually transmitted diseases, won't cure chlamydia.
If you have chlamydia, you should:
►Take all your medicine, even after symptoms disappear, for the amount of time prescribed.
►Go to your healthcare provider again if your symptoms do not disappear within 1 to 2 weeks after finishing all your medicine.
►Not have sex until your treatment is completed and successful.
►Tell your sex partners that you have chlamydia so they can be tested and treated, if necessary.
These steps will help you avoid being reinfected with the bacteria. Repeated infections may increase the risks for reproductive complications.