All About Chlamydia

What is Chlamydia?

Perhaps because those infected with chlamydia show few or no symptoms, it may be the most common STD in the world. Still, chlamydia continues to be the STD that flies most frequently below the medical radar. The vast majority of men and women who are carriers have no idea they are infected, and show no signs of the illness.

Chlamydia are tiny parasitic bacterium that work in almost the same as the way a virus does. To reproduce, the chlamydia bacterium invade and take control of another cell. The bacteria then uses the host's biochemical mechanisms to produce its offspring. It's a sneaky and highly effective method to make sure that chlamydia is spread swiftly and silently amongst the men and women who fail to take the appropriate precautions when engaging in casual sex.

Chlamydia Symptoms for Men

It is estimated that as many as half of the men who are infected with chlamydia show no obvious symptoms, and experience little or no discomfort as a result of the bacteria in their system. Chlamydia can be spread through anal, oral, as well as vaginal sex. Thus, heterosexual, gay, and bisexual men are all at risk of infection.

The symptoms that men most frequently complain of when infected with chlamydia are unusual discharge or bleeding from the tip of the penis. There may be pain and/or swelling in one or both of the testicles. Urination may become uncomfortable, even painful, and infected males may feel a burning sensation throughout their penis.

Chlamydia Symptoms for Women

Some reports say that as few as 25% of the women carrying the chlamydia bacteria ever realize that they are infected with this common STD. Heterosexual, lesbian and bisexual women can all fall victim to chlamydia. Mild symptoms may manifest themselves as changes in the frequency, or length of a woman's period. More noticeable changes would include a foul smelling, cloudy discharge from her vagina, or an excessive amount of fluid present.

Women who experience pain or discomfort during intercourse should consult with their physician to consider being tested for chlamydia. Other symptoms that can be exhibited following a chlamydia infection include a burning sensation during urination, or frequent fevers.

How Do You Get Chlamydia?

Chlamydia is transmitted by having unprotected sex with another man or woman carrying the bacterium. It can be caught during oral, vaginal or anal sex. Like other STDs, becoming infected with chlamydia is entirely preventable. By taking the appropriate precautions (no unprotected sex!) and regular check-ups with your physician, you can greatly reduce the risk that chlamydia can pose to your health.

Chlamydia can be passed from an infected mother to her newborn child during a natural birth. It cannot be transmitted by touching or sharing glasses and dishware.

Risks and Effects of Chlamydia

In women, an untreated chlamydia infection may cause permanent damage to the fallopian tubes. The result may be an episode of pelvic inflammatory disease, and possible infertility as a result. Women who had ongoing issues with chlamydia frequently have difficult pregnancies if the infection does not receive proper treatment.

Women can easily pass chlamydia to their babies during childbirth. This can lead to eye infections and pneumonia in newborns. There is also a heightened risk of premature deliveries with mothers carrying chlamydia. Women and men infected with chlamydia both have an increased risk of becoming infected with the HIV virus should they become exposed to it.

Chlamydia Treatment

Chlamydia infections usually respond well to a course of oral antibiotics in both sexes. If a woman has an especially aggressive infection, she may require hospitalization. Pain medications, fluids and antibiotics may need to be administered by intravenous tubes. Early detection and immediate treatment of chlamydia is the best way to prevent a long and complicated recovery.

Chlamydia Testing

For women who suspect that they may have become infected with chlamydia, a doctor will take a tissue sample from inside the vagina using a medical swab. Samples sent to a testing lab will usually be processed quickly, with reliable results.

Men who are suspected of chlamydia infection will need to have their doctor take a tissue sample from their urethra. Urine samples may be requested as well. For both men and women, testing for chlamydia is fairly straightforward, and once tissue samples have been sent to the lab, the results are usually quick to come back.

Complications from Untreated Chlamydia

A woman infected with chlamydia that does not seek treatment runs a real risk of future infertility. If she is able to conceive, an infected woman will often have experience serious, sometimes even fatal complications during birth. Men who do not take steps to rid themselves of a chlamydia infection may develop serious infections in their urethra, or the tubes that transport their sperm in their testes. This can lead to reduced sperm counts and potential infertility.

Can We Prevent Chlamydia?

Absolutely. Keep your sex safe! Regardless of your sexual orientation, or preferences with regard to erotic adventure, chlamydia is preventable by using condoms. Alternatively, if you find yourself in a monogamous relationship with a trusted (and tested) partner, you can rest easy. Sexual abstinence also will remove the risk of infection by chlamydia or any other STD.

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