What is Chlamydia? Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention
Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can be easily cured. However, if left untreated for too long, chlamydia can lead to serious complications. Chlamydia remains the most common bacterial STD and an epidemic among young adults. Chlamydia is caused by the bacteria called “Chlamydia trachomatis” and it affects both men and women. It’s spread through sexual activity of any kind: vaginal, oral or anal sex, even if you use a condom.
Anyone who has had unprotected sex or been exposed to another person’s bodily fluids can get chlamydia. The good news is that it can be treated with antibiotics – but not without treatment it can lead to serious health problems in the future such as: infertility and ectopic pregnancy. Prevention is always better than cure when it comes to STIs like Chlamydia because it cannot be contracted again once you have been treated for it.
What does Chlamydia Look and Feel Like?
Chlamydia is a bacterial infection, which means it will cause inflammation in your body. Symptoms can start from a week or two after being infected, but they often go undetected for longer. If left untreated, chlamydia can cause serious long-term health problems such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and infertility.
Common chlamydia symptoms include:
- Pain during urination.
- Feeling generally unwell.
- Swollen or tender breasts.
- Bleeding between periods, especially in women.
- Unusual discharge from the vagina or penis.
- Chlamydia can also cause pain in the joints and muscles, particularly in your lower limbs. This is called “arthralgia,” and it’s due to the chlamydia bacteria traveling through the bloodstream, usually to the arms or legs. Arthritis-like joint pain is generally more common in men who have chlamydia.
How do I Know If I Have Chlamydia?
If any of the above symptoms persist, you should see a doctor. Chlamydia is diagnosed through a urine test or a swab test of the cervix or the urethra. This can only be done in a clinic or a Sexual Health Clinic. You will be asked about your sexual history, and if you may have been exposed to chlamydia.
You should be tested for chlamydia if you have any of the following: – Pain during urination, feeling generally unwell, swollen or tender breasts, bleeding between periods, especially in women, unusual discharge from the vagina or penis.
How is Chlamydia Diagnosed?
Your doctor will likely perform the following tests:
- A swab test of the cervix or urethra to detect the presence of chlamydia.
- A urine test to detect chlamydia antibodies.
- Antibodies show that your body is fighting off an infection. This test is not as accurate as the swab test.
- A pelvic exam by your doctor to check your cervix and rule out other STIs.
How is Chlamydia Treated?
If you have chlamydia, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics. It is important to complete the entire course of antibiotics, even if you feel better after the first few days. This is because chlamydia can be re-introduced into the body if it has not been completely eradicated.
Chlamydia can be treated with antibiotics: – Azithromycin (Zithromax), Doxycycline ,Erythromycin, Levofloxacin, Metronidazole, Tinidazole.
Important Points to Remember
- Don’t panic if you have chlamydia. It’s treatable and you’ll likely never have it again.
- Your partner(s) need to be tested and treated too.
- Condoms protect against chlamydia, but they don’t fully protect against other STIs.
- Chlamydia can cause serious long.
- Term health problems such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and infertility if left untreated.
- Chlamydia is easy to diagnose and simple to treat with antibiotics.
- You can’t get chlamydia again once you’ve been treated for it.
- Besides regular STI testing, you can reduce your risk of contracting chlamydia by using condoms and getting tested regularly.