Chlamydia – The Most Frequently Reported Sexually Transmitted Disease
Chlamydia (Chlamydia trachomatis ) is the most frequently reported sexually transmitted disease ( STD) of all the STDs in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), who states that approximately 2.8 million people report having Chlamydia every year. In addition, people can be re-infected if their sexual partners do not receive treatment for the disease, making the number of people who actually have the disease even higher than this.
Chlamydia is sexually transmitted in all ways: orally, vaginally, and anally. It can infect any sexually active person, male or female, teenager or adult, the more sexual partners, the greater the risk of getting Chlamydia. Because teenage girls have a cervix (uterus opening) that has not fully matured, they are at high risk if they are sexually active. Homosexual activity between men puts them at high risk for infection because of anal and/or oral transmission of the disease.
In addition to sexual transmission, Chlamydia can be transmitted from a mother to her child during a vaginal childbirth.
Chlamydia has been called a “silent” disease, because about half of men and about three-quarters of women with the disease have no symptoms; however, if symptoms do appear, they will usually occur one to three weeks after exposure to the disease.
Symptoms of the disease are usually mild or absent, but serious complications — such as infertility — can still result, even before the woman realizes there is a problem. Women who do have symptoms may have a burning during urination or a vaginal discharge, pain during intercourse, nausea, fever, low back pain, lower abdominal pain, or bleeding between menstrual periods.
Men who have symptoms may also have a burning during urination. In addition, they may have a burning/itching around the opening of the penis or a discharge from the penis. Chlamydia from anal sex causes symptoms of rectal discharge, bleeding, and pain.
A diagnosis of Chlamydia is determined by laboratory tests such as a urinalysis or specimen tests from the cervix or penis. Chlamydia is then treated and cured using antibiotics usually either a single dose of Azithromycin or a week’s dose of Doxycycline. During treatment, both partners should abstain from sex, because of the risk of re-infection.
The best way to avoid sexually transmitting Chlamydia is to restrict sexual activity to only one partner who has been tested and found to be disease-free. Always use safe sex practices and avoid high-risk sexual behaviors that could cause you to use poor judgement in selection of a sex partner. Condoms, if used correctly and consistently, will not absolutely prevent a sexually transmitted disease ( STD); however, they will reduce the likelihood of transmission of a disease such as Chlamydia.
If left untreated, Chlamydia can progress to serious reproductive and health problems that have both short-term and long-term consequences for women.