Chlamydia

    Chlamydia (“kla-MID-ee-uh”) is a curable sexually transmitted infection
    (STI), which is caused by bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis. You
    can get genital chlamydial infection during oral, vaginal, or anal sexual
    contact with an infected partner. It can cause serious problems in men and
    women, such as penile discharge and infertility respectively, as well as in
    newborn babies of infected mothers.

    Chlamydia is one of the most widespread bacterial STIs in the United States.
    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 3
    million people are infected each year.

    WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF CHLAMYDIA?

    Chlamydia bacteria live in vaginal fluid and in semen. Chlamydia is sometimes
    called the “silent” disease because you can have it and not know it. Symptoms
    usually appear within 1 to 3 weeks after being infected. Those who do have
    symptoms may have an abnormal discharge (mucus or pus) from the vagina or penis
    or experience pain while urinating. These early symptoms may be very mild.

    The infection may move inside your body if it is not treated. Bacteria can
    infect the cervix, fallopian tubes, and urine canal in women, where they can
    cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). In men the bacteria can cause
    epidydimitis (inflammation of the reproductive area near the testicles). PID and
    epidydimitis are two very serious illnesses.

    C. trachomatis also can cause inflammation of the rectum and lining
    of the eye (conjunctivitis or “pink eye”). The bacteria also can infect the
    throat from oral sexual contact with an infected partner.

    HOW IS CHLAMYDIA DIAGNOSED?

    Chlamydia is easily confused with gonorrhea because the symptoms of both
    diseases are similar and the diseases can occur together, though rarely.

    The most reliable ways to find out whether the infection is chlamydia are
    through laboratory tests.

    • The usual test is for a health care provider to collect a sample of fluid
    from the vagina or penis and send it to a laboratory that will look for the
    bacteria.

    • The other test looks for bacteria in a urine sample and does not require a
    pelvic exam or swabbing of the penis, and results are available within 24
    hours.

    HOW IS CHLAMYDIA TREATED?

    If you are infected with C. trachomatis, your health care provider
    will probably give you a prescription for an antibiotic such as azithromycin
    (taken for one day only) or doxycycline (taken for 7 days). Or, you might get a
    prescription for another antibiotic such as erythromycin or ofloxacin.

    Health care providers may treat pregnant women with azithromycin or
    erythromycin, or sometimes, with amoxicillin. Penicillin, which health care
    providers often use to treat some other STIs, won’t cure chlamydial
    infections.

    If you have chlamydia, you should

    • Take all your medicine, even after symptoms disappear, for the amount of
    time prescribed

    • Go to your health care provider again if your symptoms do not disappear
    within 1 to 2 weeks after finishing the medicine

    • Tell your sex partners that you have chlamydia so they can be tested and
    treated, if necessary

    You also should not have sexual intercourse until your treatment is completed
    and successful.

    HOW CAN CHLAMYDIA BE PREVENTED?

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