Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis. It is one of the most common STIs in the world, with the World Health Organization (WHO) estimating that 131 million people are affected each year. This bacteria can be passed from one person to another through sexual activity, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex. It can also be passed from mother to child during childbirth.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
Chlamydia can cause an array of symptoms, some of which may be difficult to spot.
The most common signs of chlamydia are
Genital discomfort or pain
Burning or itching sensation during urination
Abnormal discharge from the penis or vagina.
Pain during sex
Swollen or tender testicles
Lower abdominal pain.
Men may also experience pain or swelling in the scrotum. In some cases, chlamydia can cause conjunctivitis, or an infection of the eye. If left untreated, chlamydia can lead to serious health issues such as infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease, and an increased risk of HIV.
DIAGNOSIS & TESTING FOR CHLAMYDIA
Diagnosis of chlamydia is done through laboratory testing of a sample taken from the affected area. In women, the sample may be taken from the cervix, while in men, it can be taken from the urethra. Samples may also be taken from the throat, rectum, and eyes of people who may be infected with chlamydia through certain types of sexual contact.
Lab tests used to diagnose chlamydia include nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) and antigen tests. NAATs are used to detect the presence of the bacteria that causes chlamydia, and antigen tests are used to detect the proteins made by the organism. Urine tests are also available for chlamydia, which are particularly helpful for men, since samples can be collected from the comfort of their own homes.
Other tests may be ordered to check for complications related to chlamydia, such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women. These tests may involve a physical exam, imaging tests such as ultrasound, or laboratory tests to check for the presence of infection in other parts of the body.
It is important to note that many people with chlamydia may not show any symptoms and could be infected without knowing it. Therefore, it is important to get tested if you think you may be at risk of.
TREATMENTS & PREVENTION
Treatment: Chlamydia can be easily treated and cured with antibiotics. Most people are prescribed a single dose of an antibiotic, such as azithromycin, or a week-long course of an antibiotic such as doxycycline. It is important to take all medication as prescribed by the doctor, even if the symptoms go away. It is also important to finish the entire course of antibiotics even if symptoms go away, to ensure the infection is fully cured.Prevention: Chlamydia can be prevented by using condoms and/or dental dams during sexual activity and avoiding multiple partners. It is also important to get tested regularly and to ensure both partners get tested if one is found to be positive. Knowing the status of both partners is the best practice to prevent the spread of chlamydia. It is also important to practice good hygiene, such as washing hands before and after sexual contact and using a fresh new condom when switching partners.