Chlamydia is a common STD (or sexually transmitted disease), and both men and women can get infected. If left untreated, it is capable of causing serious and permanent damage to the reproductive system of a woman and possible affect her ability to conceive. In simple terms, untreated chlamydia can make it extremely difficult or almost impossible for a woman to get pregnant. It can also lead to a potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy (a term used for pregnancy occurring outside the womb). The good news is that it is curable.
How Does It Spread?
You can get chlamydia through oral, anal, or vaginal sex with someone suffering from it. Keep in mind that you can get chlamydia from a male partner, even if there is no ejaculation. Also, you can get infected again if you have had this disease previously and it was successfully treated. It can happen to you if you indulge in unprotected sex with a person suffering from chlamydia. Pregnant women can give chlamydia to their babies during childbirth.
Tips for Reducing the Risk of Chlamydia
The only way of avoiding any STD is to not engage in oral, anal, or vaginal sex. However, there are certain things you can do as a sexually active individual to lower the chances of catching chlamydia.
- Maintaining a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship with someone who has been tested for STDs with negative test results.
- Use latex condoms correctly whenever you engage in sex.
What Is My Risk of Getting Chlamydia?
Chlamydia can infect anyone who engages in unprotected sex, be it oral, anal or vaginal. However, sexually active young people are at higher risk due to various biological factors and behaviors that are common among young people. Men who are bisexual, gay, or who otherwise have sex with men can also contact chlamydia as it spreads through anal and oral sex.
You should have a frank and open discussion with your healthcare provider. You should ask them whether you need to get tested for chlamydia as well as other STDs. It is recommended that women get tested for chlamydia each year if they are either younger than 25 years and sexually active, or they are older than 25 and have a sex partner with STDs or if they have multiple sex partners or a new sex partner. Pregnant women, bisexual men, and gay men should also get tested for chlamydia.
Effect of Chlamydia on Baby – Pregnant Women
If you are a woman suffering from chlamydia and you’re pregnant, it is possible to pass this infection to your newborn baby during the delivery. It might cause pneumonia or eye infection to your newborn. If you suffer from chlamydia, it’s also more likely for you to deliver the baby too early. In case you’re pregnant, it’s important to get tested for chlamydia at the very first prenatal visit. The right way to prevent any health problems is regular testing and treatment.
Checking for Chlamydia
Most people do not show any symptoms of chlamydia, even when they are infected. It is also possible that the symptoms do not appear for several weeks after having sex with someone who is already infected. Do not forget that chlamydia can damage your reproductive system even if there are no symptoms.
Symptoms for Women May Include:
- Abnormal discharge from the vagina
- A sensation of burning when urinating
Symptoms for Men Might Include:
- A discharge from the penis
- A sensation of burning when urinating
- Swelling and pain in the testicles (one or both) – less common
Chlamydia infection can also happen in the rectum for both men and women. The infection can reach the rectum due to receptor anal sex or from another infected site. There are typically no symptoms for the anal infection, but it can lead to bleeding, discharge as well as rectal pain.
In case you show any of these symptoms, or in case your partner shows symptoms of an STD or has an STD, it is important to ask your doctor to examine you. Common STD symptoms include burning sensation when urinating, smelly discharge, bleeding between periods, or an unusual sore.
Chlamydia Testing by Doctor
Chlamydia can be diagnosed with laboratory tests. Testing for chlamydia may be done with a urine sample or by a swab sample from a woman’s vagina.
Cure for Chlamydia
It is possible to cure chlamydia with the right treatment. However, it is important to keep in mind that you need to take all the medications prescribed by the doctor in order to cure the infection. When you follow the prescription given by your doctor, the medication will stop the infection and may also prevent you from experiencing any complications at a later date. It is important never to share chlamydia medication with anyone else.
It is not uncommon to have a repeat chlamydia infection. It is recommended to get tested again for chlamydia after about three months once your treatment course is over. The testing should be done even when your sex partner has been treated.
How long do you have to wait for sex again after getting treatment for chlamydia?
It is recommended not to have sex until the treatment has been completed for you as well as your sex partner. In case only a single dose of medication has been prescribed by the doctor, it is recommended to wait for at least seven days after taking the prescribed medication before indulging in sex. In case the doctor has prescribed a course of medication for seven days, it is recommended to wait for sex until the course has been completed.
The Risks of Not Getting Treated for Chlamydia
Often, the damage caused by chlamydia goes unnoticed. However, ignoring it can lead to serious health problems.
Women should know that untreated chlamydia infection can spread to their uterus as well as fallopian tubes. Fallopian tubes carry the fertilized eggs to the uterus from your ovaries. It can also cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID often has no symptoms but may cause pelvic and abdominal pain in some women. Even when you don’t experience any symptoms initially, keep in mind that PID can cause permanent damage to your reproductive system. It can also lead to other consequences, including chronic pelvic pain, eco-topic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the uterus that can be potentially deadly), and not being able to get pregnant.
Men usually do not experience any health problems due to chlamydia. There are times when the infection reaches the tube carrying the sperm from the testicles, and that might cause fever and pain. Rarely, a man is unable to have children due to chlamydia.
Untreated chlamydia also increases the chances of giving or getting HIV (AIDS virus).
More Information about Chlamydia:
Resources – STD information and referrals to STD Clinics
CDC National Prevention Information Network (NPIN)
P.O. Box 6003
Rockville, MD 20849-6003
American Sexual Health Association (ASHA)
P.O. Box 13827
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709-3827
Content source: Division of STD Prevention, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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