Chlamydia is an Infection grouped under the sexually transmitted infections (STI). It is caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. In the United States, it is the most commonly reported bacterial infection, and globally, it is the most common sexually transmitted infection.
Certain strains of Chlamydia trachomatis cause an eye infection called trachoma which occurs more in developing countries and is an important cause of blindness, especially among children.
It causes urogenital infection in both males and females, even though it can also cause infection in the mouth and rectum. The overall rate of urogenital infection amongst U.S. women is two times that of U.S. men, with higher rates in women aged 15-24 years of age and in men between 20-24 years of age.
What are the risk factors for getting chlamydia?
Chlamydia is spread by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has chlamydia. This can also happen, even if a male partner with chlamydia does not ejaculate. Having the disease before does not confer immunity and you can have it repeatedly if you keep on having sex with an infected person.
According to the American College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians, the high risk behaviors that increase the chances of contracting chlamydia include:
Having a new sex partner, having more than one sex partner, having a sex partner who has more than one sex partner, having sex with someone who has an STI, having an STI now or in the past, not using condoms consistently when not in a mutually monogamous relationship, and exchanging sex for money or drugs.
A pregnant woman with chlamydia can also pass it on to the child.
What are the symptoms of chlamydia?
Many people infected with chlamydia do not show symptoms. In cases where symptoms occur, this happens few days and several weeks after infection. They may be very mild and can be mistaken for a urinary tract infection. The symptoms in women include a whitish, yellowish, or grayish discharge from the vagina or urethra, discomfort or pain during sex, irritation or itching around the genitals, painful or frequent urination, vaginal bleeding between periods, and rectal bleeding, discharge, or pain. If the infection spreads, there may be abdominal pain, nausea, or fever.
In men, the symptoms include a discharge from the penis, a burning sensation when urinating, burning sensation around the opening of the penis, and less commonly pain and swelling in one or both testicles, inflammation of the prostate (prostatitis), rectal bleeding, discharge and also pain.
In both sexes, it can also cause eye and throat infections.
When newborn children contact the disease from their mothers during childbirth, it can cause eye infection (Conjunctivitis), and a Lung infection (Pneumonia)
What does chlamydia smell like?
The vaginal discharge in chlamydia is not always smelly. For those that smell, it does not have a particular characteristic small, however, the smell is described as strong, foul smelling, and unpleasant. This can make the infected person have an offensive vaginal odour. If the discharge has a ‘fishy’ smell, it may be due to Trichomoniasis, as these infections can occur together sometimes.
How do you treat chlamydia?
If you think you have chlamydia, you can see your doctor to get tested with your partner.
If you have chlamydia, you can be treated with antibiotics, it is also recommended that your partner gets treated too to avoid re-infection.
Who should be screened for chlamydia?
The CDC recommends that women should be tested for chlamydia at least once a year if they are:
- sexually active and younger than 25 years
- older than 25 years and have multiple sexual partners
- older than 25 years and have a new sex partner.
Men should also be screened if:
- Their partner has chlamydia or symptoms that might be chlamydia.
- They are Gay, bisexual, and have sex with men