WHAT IS IT?
Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted disease caused by a kind of bacteria which can infect both women and men.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Symptoms of chlamydia are usually mild or absent, but serious complications that cause irreversible damage, including infertility, can occur “silently” before a woman ever recognizes a problem. Chlamydia also can cause discharge from the penis of an infected man.
WHY SHOULD I CARE?
Untreated, chlamydial infections can progress to serious reproductive and other health problems with both short-term and long-term consequences. Like the disease itself, the damage that chlamydia causes is often unnoticed. In women, untreated infection can spread into the uterus or fallopian tubes and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). This happens in up to 40 percent of women with untreated chlamydia. PID can cause permanent damage to the fallopian tubes, uterus, and surrounding tissues. The damage can lead to chronic pelvic pain, infertility, and potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the uterus). Women infected with chlamydia are up to five times more likely to become infected with HIV, if exposed to it.
HOW DO YOU GET CHLAMYDIA?
Chlamydia can be transmitted during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Chlamydia can also be passed from an infected mother to her baby during vaginal childbirth.
Any sexually active person can be infected with chlamydia. The greater the number of sex partners, the greater the risk of infection. Because the cervix (opening to the uterus) of teenage girls and young women is not fully mature, they are at particularly high risk for infection if sexually active. Since chlamydia can be transmitted by oral or anal sex, men who have sex with men are also at risk for chlamydial infection.
DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT
There are laboratory tests to diagnose chlamydia. Some can be performed on urine, other tests require that a specimen be collected from a site such as the penis or cervix. Chlamydia can be treated and cured with antibiotics.