Chlamydia

Overview

Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted disease that is caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis. This disease affects nearly 1.5 million Americans per year, with young people generating the vast majority of new cases. Chlamydia trachomatis cannot reproduce outside the human body, so those infected can only contract it from another infected person. Though Chlamydia is nearly always contracted through sexual contact, it can also be passed on to an infant at childbirth if the mother is infected.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Chlamydia frequently causes only a few mild symptoms, and these will often not be seen until several weeks after exposure. Symptoms of Chlamydia can manifest as painful urination and lower abdominal pain, and can be found in both males and females. In addition, male patients may experience discharge from the penis or pain in the testicles. Women may experience vaginal discharge and painful sexual intercourse. Because the symptoms are mild, and can indicate less serious illnesses such as a bladder or yeast infection these symptoms are often dismissed as unimportant. Even though Chlamydia may produce only mild or no symptoms, it can be serious if left untreated. The infection can result in complications such as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, which can cause permanent damage to a woman’s reproductive organs. Therefore, it is important for those at risk to be tested regularly. Any unusual discharge or pain should be reported to a physician.

Causes

The primary cause of Chlamydia is a bacterial infection of Chlamydia trachomatis transmitted through unprotected sexual contact. Partners can become infected even if ejaculation does not take place. In addition, patients who have been treated for Chlamydia can be reinfected by an infected partner. This cycle of reinfection is very common. In some instances Chlamydia can be transmitted to infants during birth to an infected mother.  Continue reading for Prevention information . . .

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