Chlamydia (Chlamydia trachomatis) is the most common bacterial sexually transmitted disease (STD). It can be passed through vaginal, anal and oral sex with someone who is infected with the bacteria. Chlamydia is often called a “Silent” STD because 75% of infected individuals are unaware that they are even infected because they may have no symptoms. The bacteria can infect the cervix of women and the urethra in both men and women. Chlamydia can also infect the rectum and be spread to the throat through oral sex.
Teen girls and young women have a higher risk for problems resulting from a Chlamydia infection because their cervix is not yet fully mature which makes it easier for them to become infected.Follow these links for more information:
- If There Are No Symptoms, How Do I Know I Have It?
- How Do I Get Tested For Chlamydia?
- When Symptoms Do Occur, What Are They?
- How Is Chlamydia Treated?
- What Happens If Chlamydia Goes Untreated?
- How Can I Protect Myself From Chlamydia?
If you would like to get more information on testing, click here.
If There Are No Symptoms, How Do I Know I Have It?
Since people may have Chlamydia and not show symptoms the only way to be sure if you have Chlamydia or not is by getting tested. It is recommended that sexually active individuals get tested at LEAST once a year, or more frequently, if they have a sexual encounter with someone new, or change partners. People should also get tested if they show symptoms, if their partner shows symptoms or if their partner tests positive for Chlamydia. If you get tested for Chlamydia and you find out that you have the bacteria it is important that you and your partners be treated. If your partners are not treated it is likely that you will contract the disease again.
Chlamydia is easily treated and cured with antibiotics, often with just one dose given to you in clinic. But, the only way to get cured is to get tested so be sure to get tested as often as necessary.
How Do I Get Tested For Chlamydia?
If you would like to get tested for Chlamydia you can make an appointment at the health dept. Click here to make an appointment or, if you are a teen you can come to our walk-in clinic on Thursday afternoons (click HERE for clinic schedule).
Female Chlamydia screening can be done through a urine sample (a small amount of urine is collected in a cup), a cervical exam or vaginal exam. Male Chlamydia screening is done through a urine sample (pee in a cup). If you test positive and are treated for Chlamydia you will need to be re-screened in 3 months to make sure you didn’t get re-infected. There are no FDA approved tests for the throat or the rectum.
When Symptoms Do Occur, What Are They?
Most people do not have any symptoms. Chlamydia is typically asymptomatic. Females who do show symptoms may have unusual vaginal discharge, bleeding between periods, lower abdominal pain or back pain, fever and nausea. Males who show symptoms may have discharge from the penis, a burning feeling when urinating, genital burning or itching, and painful or swollen testicles.
Keep in mind that the only way to know for sure if you have Chlamydia is by getting tested. If you have any reason to suspect that you may have Chlamydia, make an appointment to get tested.
How Is Chlamydia Treated?
If you test positive for Chlamydia you will be given one dose of antibiotics at the clinic, or you may be given a week’s worth of antibiotics that you take twice a day. If you are taking the two doses a day for a week it is extremely important that you take ALL of the medication given to you to be sure the bacteria has been successfully treated. Remember to make sure that your partners are also tested and treated so that you do not get re-infected.
What Happens If Chlamydia Goes Untreated?
If left untreated Chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease in women, which causes lower abdominal pain because the fallopian tubes or ovaries may be swollen, which can increase the risk of an ectopic pregnancy in the future. It can cause epididymitis in men, which causes the testicles to become swollen or sore. It can have lasting effects on men and women’s fertility (the ability to have children) if left untreated, and pregnant women can even transmit the bacterium to their newborn during childbirth.
How Can I Protect Myself From Chlamydia?
The surest way to avoid getting an STD is to not have sex, or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and is known to be uninfected. Chlamydia can also be avoided by limiting your number of partners (the fewer people you have sex with the fewer opportunities you have to be exposed to the bacteria), and by using condoms.
Condoms, when used correctly and consistently, can greatly reduce the risk of Chlamydia transmission. Before you use a condom, be sure to check the package to make sure it is approved for STD prevention and that it has not expired.