Chlamydia: Why You Should Be Tested

What Is Chlamydia

chlamydia trachomatisChlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease deriving from the bacterium, chlamydia trachomatis.  In fact chlamydia is the most common reported bacterial STD in the US.  In 2009 alone there was a staggering 1.2 million infections reported to the CDC from the United States.  This is considered a low estimate as there are thousands and thousands of unreported cases each year including people who are not even aware that they are infected.  The number of reported cases could easily be doubled each year with people not always being tested for chlamydia when being treated for the symptoms.  Women are often re-infected many times from infected sex partners who are not tested or treated.

Chlamydia trachomatis can be contracted by anyone who is sexually active and is transmitted during the act of vaginal, anal and oral sex.  An infected mother can pass chlamydia onto her baby during vaginal labor.  There is also evidence that pregnant women who are infected with chlamydia and not treated are at risk to have a premature delivery.  This also puts newborns at risk for early health complications, most commonly eye and respiratory infections.  In fact chlamydia is the leading cause of infant pink eye (conjunctivitis) and pneumonia. Is it especially important that women, especially pregnant women be tested for chlamydia.

The good news is that Chlamydia is easily diagnosed and treated. A pain free urine test is all that is needed to diagnose chlamydia and a course of antibiotics will leave you STD free.


Symptoms of Chlamydia

Now that you know what is chlamydia, it’s important that you are aware of what the symptoms are and even more important that you get annual STD testing.  There are cheap, easy and online ways to get anonymous std testing.  What makes getting tested regularly for chlamydia important is that this diseases is extremely common and the majority of people who are infected have zero symptoms.  This is why chlamydia is also referred to as the silent disease.  If a person does show symptoms of chlamydia they will most commonly be present between 1 and 3 weeks after initial exposure.


Symptoms of Chlamydia in Women

Though both sexes generally don’t show symptoms of chlamydia, there are some unique symptoms of chlamydia in women that all women should be aware of.  The bacteria of chlamydia will initially infect the urethra and cervix creating symptoms that are similar to a bladder or yeast infection.  These symptoms can include a burnings sensation during urination and vaginal discharge accompanied with odor.  This is a reason why chlamydia is often unreported or detected as women are treated for what they think is a bladder infection.  If treatment is not initiated during the early stages the infection can spread to the fallopian tubes.  If this occurs there still may be no symptoms however some women will notice nausea, low back pain, fever, bleeding between periods and or lower abdominal pain.  Infection can also spread to the rectum.  If infection is still left untreated further complications can occur including pelvic inflammatory disease which occurs in about 10 to 15 percent of untreated women.    This can lead to infertility, chronic pelvic pain and even fatal ectopic pregnancy.  The CDC recommends that women get annual testing for chlamydia to prevent serious long term health consequences.

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Chlamydia in Men

Symptoms of chlamydia in men, like women, are usually non-existent.  When symptoms are present the are also similar to those of women but without the threat of further adverse health conditions.  Men may experience a burning sensation during urination or discharge from the penis.  They may also experience an itching and burning sensation around the tip and opening of the penis.  Uncommon symptoms include swelling an pain in the testicles.  Further complications from untreated chlamydia infections are rare in men, but there is the possibility of the infection spreading to the epididymis.  The epididymis is the tube that transports sperm from the testes.  If infection is spread here, symptoms will be a mixture of fever, pain and most rarely sterility.


Chlamydia Treatment and Testing

chlamydia testingIf you have symptoms of chlamydia rest assured that testing for chlamydia is a painless and easy process.  A simple urine sample should suffice in determining whether or not you are infected.  If you are indeed positive for chlamydia, be somewhat thankful that at least chlamydia is curable.  An easy treatment cycle of antibiotics is all that most people need to rid their body of the infection.  It is important that those who are being treated for chlamydia abstain from sexual activities for at least a week after treatment has finished to prevent spreading infection to your partner and then getting reinfected from them, creating a nasty cycle of repeating infections.  Women are at high risk for re-infection if their sex partners are not properly tested and treated.  Obtaining multiple infections increases a woman’s risk of potentially serious reproductive health issues with the worst being infertility.  It’s recommended that women and men who have been treated for chlamydia get retested about 90 days after their initial treatment to ensure they are STD free.

Of course the only sure way to remain chlamydia and STD free is to practice abstinence. For those who are sexually active, practicing safe sex such as using a male condom greatly reduces the risk of contracting chlamydia for both sexes.  Women are especially at risk for health complications from chlamydia trachomatis and therefore should be tested annually. All pregnant women should be tested of course.  Catching an STD early in women greatly reduces the chances of further complications such as infertility and pelvic inflammatory disease. It’s a common courtesy to notify recent past sexual partners if you have been diagnosed with chlamydia or any sexually transmitted disease for that matter.  If you are experiencing any symptoms of chlamydia outlined above, do you and your partner a favor and get tested together.  There are many easy ways to get anonymous and cheap STD testing, most of which can be ordered online.

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