Know Your STDs: Chlamydia
An important part of our family planning services at MFHS is diagnosing, treating and educating about sexually transmitted diseases. Part of living a healthy, happy life is to take the time to understand your sexual health and how to identify, treat and prevent STDs. The more you know about them, the better equipped you are to make safe choices. To further that goal, we will be writing a series of posts about STDs to help educate people throughout our service area.
The focus of our first post is Chlamydia – which is the one of the most frequently transmitted sexually transmitted diseases.
What is Chlamydia?
A highly contagious bacterial infection, Chlamydia is caused by Chlamydia trachomatis. There are approximately 4 million new infections each year, primarily among young adults and teens. Sexually active individuals should be tested at least once a year. Many people are unaware of their infections and may not seek testing right away.
What are the symptoms of Chlamydia?
For many men and women, Chlamydia usually has no symptoms at all. It is often referred to as a “silent” disease for this reason. If symptoms do occur, they usually happen within 1 to 3 weeks after infection. Women can see symptoms that include unusual discharge and unexplained bleeding or pain during urination. If the infection spreads, they may have lower abdominal or back pain, nausea and bleeding.
For men, discharge, pain during urination or testicular pain are all common symptoms.
Why is Chlamydia harmful?
If left untreated, Chlamydia can spread through the reproductive organs and cause cervicitis, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ectopic pregnancy, and infertility. Women with Chlamydia might not be able to become pregnant due to the permanent damage from the infection. If they do, the pregnancy can occur in the fallopian tubes, a potentially fatal occurrence.
There is also the risk that pregnant women who are infected can pass Chlamydia along to their baby during birth. The newborn can end up with infections in their eyes and respiratory tracts as a result.
How do you treat Chlamydia?
After doing either a urine or cervical swab test to confirm the infection, antibiotics are used. However, long-term complications (such as infertility) may not be reversible. If you suspect you may have Chlamydia and need testing, it’s important to do so right away. Locate the nearest family planning clinic and set up an appointment.