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Chlamydia trachomatis

What is chlamydia trachomatis?

Chlamydia trachomatis is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections caused by bacteria. When infected, you may not feel chlamydia infection because many people do not have any signs or symptoms.

Chlamydia trachomatis most commonly affects younger women, but it can affect both men and women of all age groups. When detected, chlamydia can be treated effectively, but it can lead to more serious health problems if left untreated.

What are the symptoms of chlamydia?

Chlamydia trachomatis usually have few or no symptoms and signs in its early stages. However, when signs and symptoms appear, they are usually mild, which makes patients tend to overlook them.

Signs and symptoms of chlamydia trachomatis may include:

  • Burning sensation during urination
  • Vaginal discharge in women
  • Penile discharge in men
  • Painful sexual intercourse in women
  • Testicular pain in men
  • Bleeding between periods in women and after sexual intercourse

Chlamydia trachomatis may also affect the rectum, either without causing symptoms or indications of infection or by causing rectal pain, secretions, or bleeding. You may also develop a chlamydial infection in the eye (conjunctivitis) by touching infected body fluids.

You should visit a specialist if you have vaginal or penial discharge or if you feel pain during urination. You should also see a specialist if you learn that your sexual partner has chlamydia as the doctor may prescribe you an antibiotic even if you do not show any symptoms.

What are the causes of chlamydia?

Chlamydia is usually transmitted through sexual contact. A new-born may be at risk of pneumonia or a serious eye infection if a pregnant woman does not treat chlamydia before childbirth. 

What are the risk factors of chlamydia?

The following factors can increase the risk of chlamydia trachomatis:

  • Being sexually active at an early age
  • Having multiple sex partners
  • Not using condoms regularly
  • Previous history of having a sexually transmitted infection

What are the complications of chlamydia?

Chlamydia trachomatis can cause several complications if left untreated, and they include the following:

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

Pelvic inflammatory disease is an infection of the uterus and fallopian tubes that causes pelvic pain and fever. Pelvic inflammatory disease may require hospitalization to get intravenous antibiotics because it can damage the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and uterus if left without proper treatment.

Epididymitis

A chlamydia infection can lead to inflammation of the coiled tube next to each testicle (epididymis). The infection can lead to fever, scrotal pain, and swelling.

Prostate gland infection

In rare cases, the chlamydia infection can spread to the prostate gland in men. It can cause pain during or after sex, fever and chills, painful urination, and lower back pain.

Sterility

Chlamydia infection – even those without signs or symptoms – can cause scarring and blockage of the fallopian tubes, which may make women sterile.

Ectopic pregnancy

This occurs when a fertilized egg implants and grows outside the uterus, usually in a fallopian tube. Abortion is necessary to prevent life-threatening complications, such as a ruptured fallopian tube. Chlamydia infection increases the risk of this happening.

New-born infection

Chlamydia can be transmitted to your baby during childbirth, causing pneumonia or a serious eye infection.

Reactive arthritis

People with chlamydia are more likely to develop reactive arthritis, also known as Reiter’s syndrome. Reactive arthritis usually affects the joints, eyes, and urethra.

How to diagnose chlamydia?

Screening and diagnosis of chlamydia are relatively simple. The tests include:

  • Urine test. The urine sample is analyzed in a laboratory to detect the presence of infection.
  • Swab test. For women, a doctor will take a swab of cervical secretions for a chlamydia culture or antigen test. This can be done during a regular cervical cancer screening test (Papanicolaou’s test). 

For men, the doctor will insert a thin scanner at the end of the penis to obtain a sample from the urethra. In some cases, the doctor will take a swab from the anus.

If you are being treated for primary chlamydia infection, the test should be repeated after three months.

How to treat chlamydia?

Chlamydia trachomatis is treated with antibiotics. You may receive a one-time dose, or you may need to take the medicine daily or multiple times a day for 5 to 10 days.

 

The infection resolves within one to two weeks in most cases. During that period, you must abstain from sexual activity. Your sexual partner also needs treatment even if they are not showing any signs or symptoms. Otherwise, the infection can be transmitted again and again between sexual partners.

You can contract chlamydia even if you have been treated for it in the past.

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