Chlamydia is common in the U.S. with nearly 3 million cases reported each year (the actual number of cases is likely much higher). Among all age groups, teens and young adults have the highest rates of infection.
Most women with chlamydia (and about half of men) do not experience symptoms. Since symptoms may not be present, the only way to know if a person who may be at risk is infected with chlamydia is to be tested. Annual testing for the infection is recommended for all sexually active women age 25 and under. Yearly testing is also recommended for women over age 25 who have risk factors for chlamydia (e.g., those with new partners and those with multiple sex partners). Depending on exact risk factors, some women may need more frequent screening, and men who might be at risk should also talk with their healthcare providers to see if testing is recommended.
Chlamydia can cured with a simple antibiotic, however, if left untreated, chlamydia can lead to complications such as PID and, potentially, infertility. A person is able to transmit chlamydia to a partner from the time they become infected until treatment is completed.
Chlamydia is a common and curable infection caused by the bacteria chlamydia trachomatis. The bacteria target the cells of the mucous membranes, which are the soft, moist tissues of the body not covered by skin.
Examples of areas that could be infected with this bacteria include:
In the United States, chlamydia is the most common bacterial sexually transmitted infection (STI), particularly among sexually active adolescents and young adults. In 2011, a total of 1,412,791 chlamydial infections were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, it is estimated that almost 3 million cases actually occurred and as many as one in 10 adolescent females test positive for chlamydia.
Chlamydia, like other STIs, is passed from an infected person to a partner through certain sexual activities.
It is important to understand that focusing on signs and symptoms is not very useful in determining if someone is infected with chlamydia. First, the symptoms of chlamydia are similar to the symptoms of gonorrhea, and the two infections are often confused. Also, approximately, 75% of women and 50% of men do not experience symptoms. So, most people who are infected with this bacteria will not be able to tell from symptoms.
If a person does have symptoms, they usually develop within one to three weeks after exposure to chlamydia. How long a person remains infectious (able to transmit the bacteria to others) is difficult to determine since so many people are asymptomatic. A person must be considered infectious from the time they become infected until treatment is completed.Men, women and infants
Most women do not experience any symptoms, but if symptoms are present they may be minor. Symptoms may include:
There are several different reliable tests for chlamydia. Newer tests, called NAATs (short fornucleic acid amplification tests), are very accurate and easy to take. It may be helpful to speak to your health care provider about what testing options are available (urine or swab tests, for example).
People infected with chlamydia are often also infected with gonorrhea. Therefore, patients with chlamydia are often treated for gonorrhea at the same time, since the cost of treatment is generally less than the cost of testing.
If you live in Alaska, Denver, CO, Maryland, West Virginia, Philadelphia, PA, Washington, D.C., or select counties of Illinois. you can have a free at-home chlamydia test. Visit www.iwantthekit.org for more information.
There are antibiotic treatments (azithromycin and doxycycline) that are effective in treating chlamydia. Which antibiotic is prescribed is decided by a health care provider, who will take into consideration the particular needs of the patient.
Whatever treatment is prescribed, there are some important points about any treatment:
Because the symptoms of chlamydia are similar to the symptom of gonorrhea, and because a person can be infected with both, doctors will sometimes go ahead and treat people with chlamydia for both infections (chlamydia and gonorrhea). Remember, partners should be examined for infection and treated as well to avoid reinfection.
If untreated, chlamydia can cause complications in men, women and infants.
Untreated chlamydia infections in women may lead to:
Untreated chlamydia in men may lead to:
Untreated chlamydia in infants may lead to:
In some cases, untreated chlamydia may lead to Reiter's Syndrome, a disorder that causes three seemingly unrelated symptoms:
Chlamydia trachomatis is one of the bacteria that can cause RS. Most men and women with chlamydia do not develop RS. RS usually affects men between the ages of 20 and 40. Women can develop the disorder, though less often than men and with symptoms that are milder and less noticeable.
As with other STIs, there are things people can do to reduce or eliminate the risk of chlamydia. These include the following:
Telling a partner can be hard, but keep in mind that most people with chlamydia do not know they have it. It is important that you talk to your partner as soon as possible so she or he can get treatment. Also, it is possible to pass chlamydia back and forth, so if you get treated and your partner does not, you may become infected again.