The Facts on Chlamydia

Chlamydia is a threat to females more than most sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). This is because if it goes untreated it may cause infertility. Unfortunately this is an extremely prevalent disease. Not only is this a problem, but also the fact that it can go unnoticed by both men and women. Although for some, symptoms will occur.

So what is it?
Chlamydia is a bacteria affecting the uterus. It is a disease that is caused only through sex, and can affect both men and women. If a female contracts this disease and it goes undetected and untreated it may travel up into the fallopian tubes and potentially can cause blockage of the tubes through scarring, resulting in infertility. If men contract this disease and they do not have treatment for it, the bacteria can cause inflammation of the testicles and also cause infertility.

For both men and women, again if the disease goes untreated; it may cause reiter's syndrome that presents as inflammation of the eyes and joints, or a rash on the feet and genitals.

If a woman contracts this disease whilst trying to fall pregnant, the pregnancy may result as an ectopic pregnancy (this is when the egg and sperm fertilise within the fallopian tubes, and the pregnancy must be terminated, as a baby cannot form in the fallopian tubes). If a female contracts this disease whilst pregnant it can induce a premature labour, or cause the infection to pass to the baby resulting with an eye or lung infection.

What are the symptoms?

As mentioned before this disease can be asymptomatic (no symptoms). But symptoms can present. These can include:

A slight increase in vaginal discharge, this can be without change of colour or smell, although it can also have an odour and present as a greenish colour.
  • A need to urinate more frequently.
  • Lower abdominal pain.
  • Pain during sexual intercourse.
  • Failure to fall pregnant.
    Some women may experience none, to one, or all of these symptoms.

  • Discharge from the penis.
  • Pain or burning on urination.
    For men it is much more likely that they will have symptoms.

    You must visit your doctor immediately if you think there is something wrong. You must specifically ask for a STD test, as a normal Pap smear does not screen for STDs. For females your doctor will test you with a Pap smear so that the culture can be sent off to a laboratory for testing. A urine sample should also be taken. You should have the results back in less than a week. Men are tested by a urine sample, and a swab of the inside of the penis may be also taken. You doctor will also screen you for other STDs, as there are other STDs that have similar symptoms, this requires no more than the standard Chlamydia test, as more STDs are tested this way.

    Now this disease sounds pretty ominous, but treatment is easy. If you are diagnosed with this disease a simple course of antibiotics can effectively cure the infection. If you have a partner, ensure he is also tested and treated for the disease. If you have contracted the disease from casual sex, as embarrassing as it may be, it is important you tell this person you've been infected, as they will pass it on to others.

    Use condoms! The chances of contracting Chlamydia when using condoms is little to none. And for those who are having casual unprotected sex, it is a good idea to have an STD test regularly around every test 6-12 months (depending on how many people you are having sexual relations with). And remember, Chlamydia is curable, HIV / Aids isn't, so please protect yourself by using condoms!

    - Louise Ganey

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