The bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis causes Chlamydia which is one of the most common sexually transmitted that affects people of all ages, particularly individuals aged below 25 years. It is also known as the ‘silent infection’ because most of the time people are unaware that they are infected.
A person can get infected by Chlamydia by having anal or vaginal sex with an infected individual.
Most women are unaware that they have been infected with Chlamydia because of the absence of signs or symptoms. It can cause PID or pelvic inflammation disease once the infection has reached the neck of the cervix and spread to the fallopian tubes and uterus. It could also lead to infertility, chronic pelvic pain, and ectopic pregnancy. An infected mother can pass the infection to her baby during birth which could cause eye or lung infections. The rectum can be infected which may cause bleeding, rectal pain or discharges.
If symptoms show, they could include:
- Pain in the lower abdominal area
- Unusual discharges from the vagina
- Bleeding after sex or spotting or bleeding between periods
- Pain or burning sensation during urination
- Painful sexual intercourse
Chlamydia would be asymptomatic or show no symptoms in men. It can cause pain when the tube of the penis or urethra is infected which could reach the epididymis. The rectum can be infected which may cause bleeding, rectal pain or discharges.
If symptoms show, they can include:
- Sore and swollen testicles
- Discharges from the penis
- Burning pain during urination
Chlamydia could easily be diagnosed with painless tests that normally use urine. A cotton swab test would be another alternative where specimens can be taken from the penis, vagina, anus or cervix and sent to the laboratory for analysis.
Having unprotected anal or vaginal sex with an infected person could get you infected with Chlamydia. Safe sex practices should always be done in every sexual activity such as using a condom or a dam which is made of thin latex that is fitted over the anus or vagina.
Many people are unaware they have the infection since Chlamydia does not often show signs and symptoms. Looking at the outward appearance of a person may not show that he or she is infected with Chlamydia even when they look healthy.
A new sex partner who may have an earlier partner infected with Chlamydia poses a high risk through unprotected sexual activity. A long-term partner could also infect you if he or she had unprotected sex with other infected people.
It is highly recommended that people under 25 years old and are sexually active should have annual check-ups for Chlamydia or other possible STDs. Chlamydia can infect any sexually active person at any age, more so when sex is unprotected and involves multiple partners.
A single dose of antibiotics can treat Chlamydia if it is detected early. A longer course of antibiotic treatment has to be done when Chlamydia complications have been developed such as PID or pelvic inflammatory disease.
If you are infected with Chlamydia, your sexual partner has to know so she or he can be tested and treated as they may have acquired the infection from you and could re-infect you after you have been treated.