26th November, 2010
Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the bacterium, Chlamydia trichomatosis, which can damage a womanâ€™s reproductive organs. Even though symptoms of Chlamydia are usually mild or absent, serious complications that cause irreversible damage, including infertility, can occur â€œsilentlyâ€ before a woman ever recognises a problem.
It can also cause discharge from the penis of an infected man, while women are frequently re-infected if their sex partners are not treated.
Chlamydia can be transmitted during vaginal, anal or oral sex. It can also be passed from an infected mother to her baby during vaginal childbirth.
Any sexually active person can be infected with Chlamydia because the cervix (opening to the uterus) of teenage girls and young women is not fully matured and probably more susceptible to infection, they are particularly at high risk for infection if sexually active.
Chlamydia is known as a silent disease because about three quarters of infected women and about half of infected men have no symptoms.
In women, the bacteria initially infect the cervix and the urethra. Women who have symptoms might have abnormal vaginal
discharge or a burning sensation when urinating. When the infection spreads from the cervix to the Fallopian tubes, some women have lower abdominal pain, low back pain, nausea, fever, pain during intercourse or bleeding between menstrual periods.
Chlamydia infection of the cervix can spread to the rectum.
Men with signs or symptoms might have a discharge from their penis or a burning sensation when urinating. Men might also have burning and itching around the opening of the penis. Pain and swelling in the testicles are uncommon. Men or women who have anal intercourse may acquire Chlamydia infection in the rectum, which can cause rectal pain, discharge or bleeding. It can also be found in the throats of women and men having oral sex with an infected partner.
Damage can lead to chronic pelvic pain, infertility and potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy. Women infected with Chlamydia are up to five times more likely to become infected with HIV, if exposed. Complications among men are rare. Infection sometimes spreads to the epididymis (the tube that carries sperm from the testis), causing pain and fever. Chlamydia infection can also cause arthritis that can be accompanied by skin lesions and inflammation of the eye and urethra.
Chlamydia And Pregnancy
In pregnant women, untreated Chlamydia infections can lead to premature delivery. Babies who are born to infected mothers can get early infant pneumonia and conjunctivitis (Red eye) in newborn.
There are laboratory tests to diagnose Chlamydia. Some can be performed on urine, while other tests require that a specimen be collected from a site such as the penis or cervix.
Chlamydia can be easily treated and cured with antibiotics. All sex partners should be evaluated, tested and treated. Persons with Chlamydia should abstain from sexual intercourse until they and their sex partners have completed treatment, otherwise reinfection is possible.
A-Abstinence: The surest way to avoid transmission of STDs is to abstain from sexual contact.
B-Be faithful to your partner. (Avoid multiple sexual partners)
C-Condom usage: Latex male condoms, when used consistently and correctly, can reduce the risk of transmission of Chlamydia.
â€¢This piece has been written for the purpose of enlightenment and education by Dr. Adesanya, a medical practitioner and member of the Society for Quality in Healthcare in Nigeria (SQHN). Visit www.doctoradesanya.blogspot.com