What is chlamydia?

By Medically reviewed by hellodoktor

Know the basics

What is chlamydia?

Chlamydia is a sexual transmitted infection (STI)s which is caused by bacteria called chlamydia trachomatis. You may not know you have chlamydia because many people usually do not develop any signs or symptoms. If they do, the common sign is genital pain and discharge from the vagina or penis. Chlamydia can also infect the cervix, anus, urethra, eye and throat.

How common is chlamydia?

Chlamydia is very common, infecting about 131 million people worldwide each year. It can affect both women and men, especially common under the age of 25. Chlamydia is three times as common as gonorrhea and 50 times as common as syphilis, both are also common sexual transmitted infections. If you suspect that you may be infected, it is important to get medical attention right away.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of chlamydia?

Chlamydia rarely shows any signs and symptoms at an early stage. When there are signs and symptoms, you may see the following:

  • Mild fever;
  • Swelling around the vagina or testicles;
  • Pain or a burning sensation during urination;
  • Lower abdominal pain;
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge;
  • Discharge from the penis;
  • Pain during sexual intercourse;
  • Bleeding between menstrual periods and after sex;
  • Testicular pain

These symptoms may appear a within one to three weeks of exposure. If you have any concerns of a symptom or any symptom not mentioned above, you should discuss with your doctor immediately.

When should I see my doctor?

You should see your doctor if you have any sign or symptom mentioned above. It is also important to see your doctor if your partner has any sign or symptom of chlamydia. Even if you may not have symptoms, you may need to be treated to prevent the infection from worsening or spreading.

Know the causes

What causes chlamydia?

Chlamydia is caused by bacteria called chlamydia trachomatis and can easily spread through vaginal, oral and anal sex. If you are a pregnant woman with chlamydia, you can also spread the infection to your baby, causing pneumonia or a serious eye infection. Chlamydia is easily treated and should be not be ignored. If left untreated, chlamydia can make it difficult for a woman to get pregnant. If you suspect you or your partner to have chlamydia, please see your doctor right away.

In addition to infertility, chlamydia can cause other complications, such as:

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID occurs when the bacteria have spread to infect the cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. PID can lead to infertility, ectopic pregnancy (a serious condition when the egg is fertilized outside of the uterus) or chronic pelvic pain.
  • Cystitis. This occurs when the bladder is inflamed.
  • Prostatitis. This occurs when the prostate gland is swollen.
  • Reiter’s syndrome. This causes arthritis, eye redness and problems with the urinary tract.
  • Other infections. These infections may affect the lining of the urethra in men, the lining of the rectum or the eyes.

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for chlamydia?

You are more at risk for chlamydia if you have any of the following risk factors:

  • Under the age of 24;
  • Sexually active with multiple partners;
  • Having unprotected sex;
  • Having a history of other sexual transmitted infections.

To minimize your risk, you should practice safe sex and get tested regularly.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is chlamydia diagnosed?

Chlamydia is usually diagnosed when you get tested during your doctor’s visit. You should be tested yearly if you are younger than 25 years old and sexually active. If you are older than 25 years old, you should be tested every year when you have more than one sex partner, have sex with someone who have multiple partners, do not practice safe sex or have history of chlamydia in the past.

How is chlamydia treated?

Chlamydia can be easily treated with antibiotics. You will need to see your doctor to get a proper diagnosis. Then, your doctor will usually prescribe you antibiotics for you and your partner for five to 10 days. In some cases, it may take 2 weeks to fully treat chlamydia. You should not have sex during this time to prevent the spread of chlamydia. Make sure to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. It is always important to finish the full course of your antibiotics to prevent antibiotic resistance and the infection from coming back. Once you have been treated, you do not have immunity against the chlamydia. Re-infection can still occur.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage chlamydia?

To manage your risk for chlamydia, it is recommended you do the following:

  • Don’t have sex. This means to not engage in any sexual activity including vaginal, anal and oral sex. This is the best way to avoid any STI.
  • Be faithful. When you and your partner do not have other sexual partners, you reduce your risk tremendously.
  • Practice safe sex. This means you need to use a condom for all types of sex. Condoms work by keeping the blood, vaginal fluids and semen from passing the bacteria to another person.
  • Understand that other birth control methods will not protect you. Other birth controls such as the oral contraceptive pill, contraceptive shots, implants, intrauterine devices (IUDs), diaphragms and spermicides will not protect you from any STIs, including chlamydia.
  • Have an honest talk with your sexual partner. It is important to communicate openly with your sex partner about your sex life, STIs and the use of condoms before having sex.
  • Get tested. If you are sexually active, especially with multiple partners, you should get tested regularly for all STIs.
  • Have regular checkups. During your checkups, your doctor can identify signs that can help you get treated early.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: September 12, 2019

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