Chlamydia is one of the most common bacterial STI in the U.S., infecting over 1 million people each year.
Chlamydia is primarily transmitted through vaginal and anal sex (even without full penetration), and less commonly through oral sex. It can also be transmitted from infected fluids to the eye and from mother to child during birth.
Most people (up to 80% of females and 50% of males) do not experience any symptoms from chlamydia. If a person does develop symptoms, it is usually 1-3 weeks after exposure.
Females may experience vaginal discharge, burning sensation during urination, lower abdominal and lower back pain, pain during intercourse, bleeding between periods, nausea, or fever. Rarely symptoms may include urethritis (inflamed urethra), proctitis (inflamed rectum), or conjunctivitis (inflamed eyelid).
Males may experience discharge from the penis, pain or burning sensation during urination, pain or swelling of the testes. Later symptoms may include urethritis (inflamed urethra), or more rarely proctitis (inflamed rectum), conjunctivitis (inflamed eyelid).
Without treatment, chlamydia can lead to serious complications. For females, these include pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) which can lead to infertility, cystitis (bladder infection), and mucopurulent cervicitis. For males, complications include prostatitis (inflamed prostate), scarring of the urethra, infertility, and epididymitis (inflamed epididymis).
Chlamydia can be diagnosed with a urine test or a swab test. Many females get a chlamydia test as part of their pelvic exam.
Chlamydia can be treated and cured with antibiotics. All partners should be tested, and treated if appropriate. The patient should avoid sex until all treatment has been completed. Because people infected with chlamydia are often also infected with gonorrhea, they may be treated for both at the same time.
The following strategies can help reduce the risk of infection:
• Mutual monogamy
• Condoms, dental dams, or other barrier methods