If you read the headlines you probably know that sexually transmitted infections, STIs, are on the rise. In 2017, there were 1.7 million cases of chlamydia reported in the United States. As that number grows you need accurate information on chlamydia.
According to the CDC, Chlamydia, Chlamydia trachomatis, is the most common sexually transmitted disease (STD). Most of the STDs reported in the United States are chlamydia. It has been the case since 1994 and over the last several years chlamydia is on the rise across the country.
If you are sexually active, you need to know these chlamydia facts, regardless of your age, gender, race or sexual orientation.
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Here are Chlamydia symptoms in women:
- Chlamydia can be easily treated with antibiotics. Unlike some diseases, like Measles, which give you immunity once exposed, you can get chlamydia again. Be sure to take medicine as prescribed by your doctor and avoid having sex until all the medicine has been taken — usually a seven-day course of treatment.
- Testing for chlamydia may consist of a urine test, or swabbing the penis or the vagina, and should include both an oral and anal testing, if there has been oral/anal contact during sex.
- Symptoms of chlamydia are often undetected, so you may not know you have the STD/STI.
- A pregnant woman with chlamydia can pass the disease on to her unborn child.
The most effective way to avoid getting chlamydia is to abstain from sex. You reduce the risk of getting infected by making sure you and your partner are tested for the STD and have negative test results. Using condoms also reduces the chances of getting chlamydia and many other STDs. When having oral sex, you should also use condoms. The female condom is designed to protect from getting sexually transmitted infections from women. Use a condom on the penis before performing oral sex on a man.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates the highest at-risk age group is women between the ages of 15 to 24. However people of any age can contract a sexually transmitted disease or infection. In fact recent news stories report a rise in the incidence of STDs in nursing homes and retirement living due to the lower use of condoms.
For women the symptoms of chlamydia could include:
- An abnormal vaginal discharge;
- Discomfort or burning sensation during urination.
Symptoms in men could be include one or more of the following:
- A burning sensation during urination.
- A discharge from the penis.
- And in a smaller number of cases there could be discomfort, swelling and tenderness in testicles, one or both.
Since chlamydia can be spread though all sexual contact, men and women who have anal oral sex, in addition to vaginal penetration can pass or become infected with chlamydia. Bodily fluids and secretions can transmitted the STD. If you’ve had anal sex the symptoms can include discharge from the anus, rectal pain or bleeding.
Information on Chlamydia
As noted earlier, the incidence of STDs, chlamydia specifically are on the rise. Reporting rates suggest that there are about 2.8 million cases of chlamydia annually in the US, but because people often don’t know they have the STD or fail to report, there are probably more people out there with chlamydia than estimated.
Sometimes the symptoms of chlamydia and other STDS are ‘silent’, meaning you may not know that you have been infected. Symptoms may be ignored, or assumed to be something else, and the individual remains unaware they have a STD. Without testing, or discussing the need for testing when having sex with a new partner, there is an increased probability that the infection will be passed from one partner to another during sex.
You should get an STD annually for chlamydia if you are:
- A sexually active woman under age 25
- A woman over 25 who has multiple sexual partners
- A woman whose sexual partner may have multiple sexual partners
- Are pregnant (pregnant women should be screened for chlamydia as early as possible in the pregnancy, with a screening again in the third trimester)
- At increased risk for other health reasons
Chlamydia presents great risks for women of childbearing age. Untreated chlamydia (or gonorrhea) can lead to permanent damage of a woman’s fallopian tubes resulting in serious complications — dangerous (ectopic) pregnancies, infertility, and long-term pain in the abdominal or pelvic region of the body.
Peace of mind is available — get tested. Ask your new partners to get tested for chlamydia and other STDs as well. It is important to get tested with each new partner and to use protection until test results are known. Your safety is important and by being informed you can take steps to reduce your risk of getting chlamydia.
Reviewed by Luis Ferdinand M. Papa, MD, MHA
- Genital Chlamydia trachomatis Infections Clear More Slowly in Men Than Women, but Are Less Likely to Become Established. The Journal of Infectious Diseases.
- Endale Tadesse, Million Teshome, Anteneh Amsalu, Techalew Shimelis. (2016). Genital Chlamydia trachomatis Infection among Women of Reproductive Age Attending the Gynecology Clinic of Hawassa University Referral Hospital, Southern Ethiopia. PLOS ONE.
- Philip A. Chan, Ashley Robinette, Madeline Montgomery, Alexi Almonte, Susan Cu-Uvin, John R. Lonks, Kimberle C. Chapin, Erna M. Kojic, and Erica J. Hardy. (2016). Extragenital Infections Caused by Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae: A Review of the Literature. Infectious Diseases in Obstetrics and Gynecology.
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