Chlamydia currently is the most common form of STD in the United States, with an estimated 4 million new infections occurring each year. The greatest number of infections are diagnosed in unmarried persons who are less than 25 years old and who have had two or more sex partners during the previous year. In women, untreated chlamydia infections can lead to infertility, chronic pelvic pain, and tubal pregnancy. According to government health experts, every year about 50,000 American women become infertile due to chlamydia infections.
What are the Symptoms of Chlamydia?
About 75 percent of women and 50 percent of men with chlamydia infections have no symptoms. Because of this, many infected persons remain untreated and have the potential to spread chlamydia to others. In some cases, chlamydia vaginitis may cause an abnormal vaginal discharge, light vaginal bleeding (especially after intercourse), or pain in the pelvis or lower abdomen. In men it may cause a penile discharge or pain during urination.
How is Chlamydia Diagnosed?
Because chlamydia infections often cause no symptoms, your doctor will assess your risk for chlamydia based on your sexual history. Your doctor can confirm the diagnosis of chlamydia infection by using a new and extremely accurate urine test. Chlamydia testing can also be done on a swab of the area around your urethra or cervix. Your doctor can obtain yearly cervical cultures if you are sexually active.
What is Expected Duration of the Infection?
If untreated, chlamydia infections can last for many months, and during this time chlamydia bacteria can be spread to others.
How Can I Prevent Chlamydia?
Since chlamydia is a STD that can be transmitted during sexual intercourse, you can prevent chlamydia infection by:
To prevent complications of untreated chlamydia infections, including infertility and tubal pregnancy, sexually active women at risk for chlamydia should have a routine pelvic examination with a chlamydia screening test annually. To prevent chlamydia eye infections and pneumonia in newborns, all pregnant woman should be screened for chlamydia STDs.
How is Chlamydia Treated?
Chlamydia infections can be treated with oral antibiotics such as doxycycline, azithromycin and ofloxacin. Once someone has been treated for chlamydia, all of their sex partners must be treated as well. This will prevent being infected again.
When Do I Call the Doctor?
All sexually active men and women should schedule a routine physical examination every year, even if they have no symptoms of STDs. In women, this physical examination should include a pelvic exam.
If you are a woman, the federal government's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) recommends that you see your doctor for chlamydia screening if you are pregnant or have a cervical infection. You should also have chlamydia screening at least once a year if you are:
Full antibiotic treatment cures chlamydia STDs and can prevent complications. In woman who have chlamydia PID and remain untreated, government health experts estimate that 20 percent become infertile, 18 percent suffer long-term pelvic pain, and 9 percent eventually have a tubal pregnancy. Untreated chlamydia infections in men can cause swollen and tender testicles.
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