What is a Chlamydia Infection?
- Chlamydia infection is a curable sexually transmitted bacterial disease (STD), which is caused by a bacterium called Chlamydia Trachomatis.
- You can get genital Chlamydia infection during oral, vaginal, or anal sexual contact with an infected partner.
- It can cause serious problems in men and women as well as in newborn babies of infected mothers.
- Because symptoms of Chlamydia are mild or absent, serious complications that cause irreversible damage, including infertility, can occur “silently” before a woman ever recognizes a problem.
How do people get Chlamydia?
Chlamydia can be transmitted during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Chlamydia can also be passed from an infected mother to her newborn during vaginal childbirth.
How common is Chlamydia?
Chlamydia is the most frequently reported bacterial sexually transmitted infection in the United States. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that 5 percent of the young sexually active people are infected with Chlamydia, or one in twenty high school girls may have Chlamydia. Under-reporting is substantial because most people with Chlamydia are not aware of their infections and do not seek testing. Chlamydia is so common in young women that, by age 30, 50% of sexually active women have evidence that they have had chlamydia at some time during their lives.
What are the symptoms of Chlamydia?
The infection is frequently not diagnosed or treated until complications develop. In women, the bacteria initially attack the cervix (opening to the uterus) and the urethra (urine canal). The few women with symptoms might have an abnormal vaginal discharge or a burning sensation when urinating. When the infection spreads from the cervix to the fallopian tubes, some women still have no signs or symptoms; others have lower abdominal pain, low back pain, nausea, fever, pain during intercourse, and bleeding between menstrual periods. Whenever the infection spreads past the cervix into the upper reproductive system, permanent and irreversible damage can occur. Men with signs or symptoms might have a discharge from the penis and a burning sensation when urinating. Men might also have burning and itching around the opening of the penis or pain and swelling in the testicles, or both.
How soon after exposure do symptoms appear?
If symptoms do occur, they usually appear within 1 to 3 weeks of exposure. If you are told you have Chlamydia or any other STD and receive drug treatment, you should notify all of your recent sex partners so that they can see a health care provider and be treated. A sex partner needs treatment even if (s)he has no symptoms. This will reduce the risk that your partners will develop serious complications from Chlamydia and reduce your risk of becoming re-infected. Do not have sex until both you and your sex partner complete your Chlamydia drug treatment.
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