STD Awareness: Chlamydia

The bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis

The bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis

Did you know that chlamydia (pronounced “kluh-MID-ee-uh”) is the most common sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the United States? However, many people with chlamydia may not even know they have it: 50% of men and 75% of women will have no symptoms. Sexually active individuals and individuals with multiple sex partners are at the most risk.

Like other STDs, many people with chlamydia are asymptomatic, some symptoms in men include:

  • Burning sensation during urination
  • Discharge from penis or rectum
  • Testicular tenderness
  • Rectal discharge or pain

The symptoms in women include:

  • Burning sensation during urination
  • Painful sexual intercourse
  • Rectal pain or discharge
  • Symptoms of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, salpingitis, liver inflammation, similar to hepatitis

A person can contract chlamydia from vaginal, anal, and oral sex with an infected person. Mothers can pass chlamydia to their babies during child birth. Babies born to infected mothers can get pneumonia and eye infections. Women should be aware that a Pap smear does not detect Chlamydia. A swab test must be done in the affected area.

The usual treatment for chlamydia is a course of antibiotics, including tetracyclines. The most important thing is to see the doctor immediately. There is no significant immunity after infection and a person may become repeatedly infected. The best prevention for chlamydia is a monogamous relationship and proper use of condoms.

If you think that you may have been infected with chlamydia, you should:

  • See a doctor immediately. The infection is easily treated and complications are stopped if you receive immediate help.
  • Follow your doctor’s orders and finish all antibiotics, even if the symptoms disappear.
  • Don’t engage in any sexual activity while being treated.
  • Tell all of your sex partners so they may receive treatment.
  • See your doctor again if symptoms do not go away one to two weeks after you complete medications.
  • See your doctor again within three to four months for another test. This is usually required by local health departments and your doctor must report this infection to the local health department.

While chlamydia is the most common STD in the United States, it is also the most easily treated. The best prevention, however, is the proper usage of condoms. To make an appointment for STD testing, contact Planned Parenthood to make an appointment at a health center near you.

Click here to check out other installments of our monthly STD Awareness series!