Chlamydia

Chlamydia is a common, curable Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) which is caused by a particular kind of bacteria and is spread by engaging in unprotected sexual contact with an infected person.

WHAT IS IT?
Chlamydia (pronounced KLUH-mid-ee-uh) is an infection caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis. Every year 2,000,000-4,000,000 Americans get chlamydia. It is most common among young men and women who have multiple sexual partners. However, people of all ages and with any number of sexual partners can (and do) get chlamydia.

HOW IS IT TRANSMITTED?
Chlamydia is transmitted through unprotected oral, anal, or vaginal sex with an infected person.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Many people who have chlamydia are asymptomatic (they have no symptoms). This is true for most women and some men. Even if there are no symptoms (outward signs of sickenss), the infection may still be harming the body and can still be passed to others.

If symptoms do appear, they usually show up 1-2 weeks after having sex.

Symptoms for women include:
o Unusually heavy discharge from the vagina
o Bleeding from the vagina between periods
o Burning or pain during urination
o Pain in abdomen (sometimes occurs with fever and nausea)

Symptoms for men include:
o White, watery discharge or drip from penis
o Burning or pain during urination
o Pain and swelling in the testicles
o Frequent urge to urinate
o Low-grade fever

Testing by a health care provider is the only way to determine whether or not someone has chlamydia.

When a person is tested for chlamydia, a clinician uses a cotton swab to gather cells from the cervix (for women) or the urethra (for men). The tests are quick and cause little discomfort. The cells that are gathered are sent to a lab for culture.

HOW IS IT TREATED?
People with chlamydia are given antibiotics orally (by mouth). If the person with chlamydia properly follows all the instructions given to them by their health care provider, the infection will go away. However, a person can get chlamydia many times if they engage in the behaviors that put them at risk. All partners of anyone with chlamydia must
also be tested and treated if necessary. During treatment, the couple must not engage in unprotected intercourse.

If someone with chlamydia does not get proper treatment:

o They may give chlamydia to their sexual partner(s)
o A more serious infection can occur, causing damage to reproductive organs
o They may become unable to have children
o It can be passed from a mother to her baby during childbirth, possibly causing blindness.

HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF FROM IT?
A person can protect themselves from chlamydia by:

o Practicing abstinence – not engaging in oral, anal, or vaginal sex
o Using condoms or latex barriers for every act of oral, anal, or vaginal sex
o Being sexual with people who are only being sexual with them
o Getting tested regularly for chlamydia and other STIs
o Communicating with their potential sex partners about their sexual histories, including testing for and treatment of STIs.