According to statistics, Chlamydia is a very common sexually transmitted disease. The STD is caused by bacteria, Chlamydia trachomatis that are responsible for infecting more than 90% of people each year.
More women than men are infected with the disease. The bacteria attack the cervix in women. Urethra and rectum are infected with the disease in case of both men and women. In rare cases do the bacteria invade other body parts like the throat and the eyes.
Unfortunately, there have been no recorded symptoms of Chlamydia especially in the case of women. This does make diagnosing the disease difficult. However, if Chlamydia is left untreated it can cause serious repercussions at a later stage.
Chlamydia Symptoms And Signs
Chlamydia symptoms, though not visible, often appear about a couple of weeks after the bacteria have invaded the body. This is one reason Chlamydia is referred to as the ‘silent’ disease. Almost 70% of the women infected with Chlamydia show absolutely no symptoms of the infection. Even among men, the majority do not show the symptoms associated with the disease.
The Symptoms Of Chlamydia Generally Seen In Women Are
• Inflammation of the cervix causing heavy vaginal discharge
• Frequent urination followed by pain
• Post coital bleeding or pain in the lower abdomen after sexual intercourse
• Pain during vaginal penetration
• Irregular menstruation
In Men The Symptoms Of Chlamydia Are
• Inflammation or swelling of the testicles along with pain
• White and watery discharge from the tip of the penis. The discharge is heavy and often stains the underwear.
• Pain while urinating; burning sensation after or while passing urine
If the rectum gets infected with Chlamydia then hardly any symptoms are seen in both men and women.
How Does Chlamydia Spread?
Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease and hence spreads easily through sexual contact or contact with the sexual fluids of the infected person.
It Can Spread Through
• Having unprotected oral, vaginal or anal sex with a person who is already infected.
• From mother to her child during normal delivery.
• Transfer of the bacteria from the genitals to other parts of the body; though this happens only in very rare cases.
A person who feels he/she is showing the symptoms of Chlamydia should immediately seek medical help. Schedule an appointment with your doctor and get medically tested for the disease. In some countries sexual health clinics do the testing for sexually transmitted diseases absolutely free of cost. There are also home kits available with local pharmacists; these kits allow you to collect sample for the testing. The sample can be taken to the pharmacist for analysis.
Medical testing of Chlamydia is the only way of finding out whether a person is infected with the bacteria or not. In the case of women a urine sample can be submitted in the labs for testing. In some cases the doctor might prefer taking a sample of vaginal swab for the analysis. A speculum will be inserted in the vagina that will open up the vagina. Then a soft bristled brush or sterilized wool will be inserted in to the vagina to collect sample of cells from the cervix.
For men, sample of urine is needed for the test. However, sometimes a swab is also taken from the tip of the penis especially if there is white cloudy discharge experienced by the man. In most cases, urine sample is the preferred method for testing for Chlamydia. The sample is easy to collect and does not cause discomfort to the patient.
However, urine tests are less reliable than swabs. Results for the test are usually available within a week. You must take your report to the doctor as soon as you receive it. Many labs have now started using the ‘rapid’ test kit for checking for Chlamydia. The test requires a sample of urine and the results are available within an hour of testing. But this rapid urine test is only for men.
Treatment Of Chlamydia
Treating Chlamydia is easy and simple once it has been diagnosed correctly. The doctor will put you on a course of antibiotics. The antibiotics are the best way to treat the disease and have shown a success rate of 95% when taken regularly. However, if you are pregnant or suffer from allergy to antibiotics then you must inform your doctor in advance. Depending on your condition the doctor will prescribe you a different set of antibiotics.
Do not break the treatment in between. Continue using the antibiotics for as long as the doctor asks you to. Any break in the course will have you starting the course from the beginning again.
Truthfully answer the questions that the doctor asks you. This is important to get rid of the infection completely. Your sex life and sexual practices might come under the scanner; the doctor will want to know about your sexual partners. If you have had sexual intercourse with someone while being infected with Chlamydia, the doctor will want to test and treat that person for the disease as well.
Once your antibiotic course gets over the doctor will want to see you again in order to ensure that the infection is completely gone. The doctor will get you tested once again after the completion of your course. Unless this test comes out negative you will be asked not to indulge in any sort of sexual contact.
How To Prevent Chlamydia?
Condoms are the best known method of reducing the risk of sexually transmitted diseases including Chlamydia. One must also get tested for the disease once every six months at any sexual health clinic. If you are taking a new sexual partner then encourage him/her to get tested as well. This will greatly prevent the transmission of the disease.
Many countries like the US and the UK have made it mandatory for pregnant women to be screened for STDs. This will reduce the chances of Chlamydia from spreading to child through mother. If tests for STDs are not mandatory in your country, you can request your doctor to test you for the disease.