Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by a bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis.
Sexually active people can get chlamydia; however, men and women between the ages of 15 and 30 having multiple sex partners are most at risk for this infection. Also at risk are babies born to infected mothers.
Chlamydia is spread almost exclusively through sexual contact. Infection during pregnancy may result in eye and lung infection of the newborn.
The symptoms of chlamydia are similar to those of gonorrheal infections. In males, symptoms can include urethritis including an opaque discharge, itching, and burning upon urination. In females, symptoms can include cervical discharge and bleeding; however, most women are asymptomatic.
The symptoms associated with chlamydia appear from one to two weeks after infection. Some people never develop obvious symptoms throughout their infection.
A person can spread chlamydia from the time they are infected until they are cured.
No. Past infection with chlamydia does not protect a person from contracting the disease again.
Chlamydia is treated by antibiotics such as azithromycin or doxycycline. Erythromycin is the drug of choice for the newborn and for women with a known or suspected pregnancy.
Chlamydial infections are difficult to distinguish clinically from gonorrheal infections and these infections may be acquired concurrently. For this reason, treatment for both organisms is recommended when one is suspected.
If not treated, males can develop complications including epididymitis, infertility, Reiter's syndrome and proctitis. In females, complications may include infertility, ectopic pregnancy, conjunctival and pneumonic infection of the newborn.
There are a number of ways to prevent the spread of chlamydia:
- Abstain from sexual contact, or be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and is known to be uninfected. Limit your number of sexual partners.
- Use a condom.
- Carefully wash genitals after sexual relations.
- If you think you are infected, avoid any sexual contact and visit your local STD clinic, a hospital or your doctor.
- Notify all sexual contacts immediately so they can obtain examination and treatment.