How Does a Person Contract Chlamydia?
Men and women can contract chlamydia through sexual activity with an infected person. While using a condom can decrease a person's chances of acquiring this common sexually transmitted disease (STD), protection does not eliminate the risk. A bacterium, chlamydia trachomatis causes chlamydia and it is possible to acquire this disease again after treatment as no immunity is developed. Newborn babies can develop pneumonia and eye infections during vaginal birth from infected mothers. The Center for Disease Studies (CDC) estimates that over two million people between the ages of 14 and 39 have infections making chlamydia the most common bacterial STD reported in the United States.
When Do Symptoms Develop?
If symptoms develop, they usually occur in one to three weeks. Unfortunately, most people never develop symptoms and that is why the disease is so common. In fact, about 75 percent of women and half of the men who have the infection never experience symptoms. Chlamydia infects men and women in their urinary tract, which can cause itching, a burning sensation during urination, and/or a discharge from the penis or vagina that is not normal. An infection can develop in a man's epididymis, which is the tube that carries sperm causing pain, fever, and occasionally infertility. When chlamydia is not treated in a woman, the bacterial infection spreads from the cervix and urethra to the fallopian tubes. Many women still do not experience symptoms; others have nausea, fever, pain during intercourse, low back pain, lower abdominal pain, or bleeding between periods. Rectal infections may bleed, have a discharge, or pain.
Are There Any Complications?
Failure to treat chlamydia infections can result in chronic pelvic pain and infertility before a person even realizes there is a problem. Having chlamydia increases a woman's risk for an HIV infection by up to five times. Having oral sex with a partner infected by chlamydia can result in chlamydia infections of the throat. Arthritis accompanied by lesions on the skin, inflammation of the eye and urethra is a rare side effect of untreated genital chlamydia.
Is There a Cure?
Laboratory urine tests can sometimes diagnose chlamydia, other test require collecting a specimen from the infected area of the penis, cervix, rectum, or throat. Just a single dose of an antibiotic such as Azithromycin, or Doxycycline twice a day for a week can usually treat and cure chlamydia easily. Any person who is diagnosed should tell any sex partners to seek evaluation and treatment and abstain from sexual relations until each has completed treatment or risk being infected again. The CDC recommends annual screening for anyone age 25 or younger who is sexually active and for all pregnant women.