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Chlamydia


Chlamydia one of the most frequently reported sexually transmitted diseases in the North America. Estimates are that more than 89 million people worldwide are currently infected with the disease. It is caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis.


Chlamydia can be transmitted through oral, vaginal, or anal sex. It can also be passed from a mother to her baby during a vaginal birth. Anyone who is sexually active is at risk for contracting chlamydia, and the greater the number of sexual partners, the greater the risk. Even close physical contact can cause transmission if bodily fluids are exchanged. Penetrating sex is not required to contract or spread chlamydia.


The chlamydia bacterium is similar to gonorrhea in the symptoms it produces and the way it is spread. Like gonorrhea, it can live in the cervix, urethra, throat, and rectum. Infected persons, both men and women, may lack any symptoms and can spread the disease unknowingly to other sexual partners.


Chlamydia symptoms (Men and Women)


Chlamydia symptoms usually become evident in one to three weeks after infection. However, chlamydia is one of the silent STDs because some people show no symptoms at all. It is estimated that about 75 percent of women and 50 percent of men exhibit no signs of the disease.


In women, chlamydia symptoms include vaginal discharge, burning or painful urination, abdominal pain, and lower back pain, pain during intercourse, fever, nausea, and vaginal bleeding between periods. In men, common symptoms include burning or painful urination, penile discharge, burning or itching around the opening of the penis, and swelling of the testicles.


Chlamydia Treatment


If used properly, antibiotics can completely cure this sexually transmitted disease. Chlamydia treatment can be achieved in a single dose with the antibiotic azithromycin. Another antibiotic that is commonly used is doxycycline but repeated doses over one week are required.


Although there is typically no resistance to antibiotics by the chlamydia bacterium, recent discoveries of antibiotic resistant strains have been made. It is unclear whether these strains are present in humans, and further research needs to be conducted. However, this could be an emerging problem for anyone who contracts or is at risk for contracting the disease.


Complications


When left untreated, this sexually transmitted disease can result in serious complications. PID occurs when the infection travels upwards into the female reproductive organs. This complication develops in nearly 40 percent of women who do not seek treatment. The damage caused by PID can lead to infertility, chronic pelvic pain, and potentially fatal ectopic pregnancies. Women infected with chlamydia are also up to five times more likely to contract HIV if exposed, than women with a healthy reproductive system.


Like gonorrhea, chlamydia is also responsible for an increased risk of premature birth. The infant is also likely to contract the infection while traveling through the birth canal. This can lead to serious eye injury or pneumonia. However, all newborns are treated with eye drops that kill the chlamydia bacteria to prevent serious damage to the eyes. This practice is routine because so many women carry the infection unknowingly and without symptoms.


In men, chlamydia complications are rarer, but can occur. Infection can spread to the epididymis, or the tube that carries sperm from the testes. This can lead to pain, fever, and in very rare cases, sterility. Other rare side effects of this sexually transmitted disease includes skin lesions, inflammation of the eyes, arthritis, and meningitis.


Prevention

As with all sexually transmitted diseases, chlamydia can be prevented most easily by abstaining from sexual intercourse completely, or engaging in sexual activity with one monogamous partner who has been tested and confirmed negative for the disease. Latex condoms, when used properly, can reduce the risk of transmission, although it cannot completely remove the risk.


To prevent the risk of serious complications, it is recommended that you undergo regular screenings for all STDs, including chlamydia. Any genital symptoms such as soreness, itching, burning, or bleeding, should be immediately evaluated by a qualified medical professional.


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