Chlamydia is often referred to as a silent disease. Its symptoms are often hard to notice. And if left untreated, chlamydia can lead to some pretty severe complications. It causes Pelvic Inflammatory Disease in 40% of untreated women. This infection can leave woman sterile or cause potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the uterus). Women infected with chlamydia are also five times more likely to get HIV if exposed to it. In men untreated chlamydia can cause infection of the epididymis, the tube that carries sperm to the vas deferens, as well as infections of the rectum and urethra.
Chlamydia Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention.
The symptoms of chlamydia can go unnoticed for quite some time. In men the symptoms may be a burning sensation during urination occasionally accompanied by a discharge from the urethra. These usually occur 1 to 3 weeks after exposure. Women may experience all, some, or none of the following: a slight burning sensation during urination, a thin vaginal discharge, and abdominal pain. Many women will have to rely on their sexual partners informing them that they have the disease—making the "tell your partners the bad news" step very important indeed.
Diagnosing chlamydia is tricky, as it is easily confused with gonorrhea. The symptoms of chlamydia are similar to gonorrhea, but they are much less severe. In order to diagnose chlamydia, a doctor will have to do a culture of the bacteria. Usually, when they treat someone for gonorrhea or chlamydia, the antibiotic used will take care of either infection. Because it is possible to have both infections at the same time, self diagnosis is difficult. If you experience any of the symptoms for either gonorrhea or chlamydia, go see a doctor.
There are several tests for confirming a chlamydia diagnoses; some hurt while others are easy peezy. The doctor will conduct a physical examination of your genitals, checking for tenderness and discharge. Fever and high white blood cell count could be the signs of an infection. The doctor might swab a sample of skin cells from your urethra or vagina to run a culture to determine the bacterial infection. Or s/he may send a sample of urine to be tested for infection. The doctor may also test you for other sexually transmitted diseases, as people with one are more likely to have another.
The treatment for chlamydia is antibiotics and temporary abstinence. The only way to get rid of chlamydia is with antibiotics, either with a single dose of azithromycin (Zithromax) or a week of doxycycline (Atridox, Bio-Tab) taken twice daily. These are the two most common treatments. All sexual partners that could be infected need to be treated as well. While being treated, it would be unwise of you to have sex with anyone. Three or four months after being treated for chlamydia, you should get tested for chlamydia again. Just to be sure.
How are you going to prevent this from happening in the future? Wearing latex condoms during sexual intercourse greatly reduces the risk of an infection. You will also want to abstain from having sex with any of your former partners until they have been tested and/or treated. You may also wish to consider refraining from having sex with at-risk people. It may be as easy as having a pre-coital discussion. The CDC recommends yearly chlamydia screening for sexually active women age 25 and under. A doctor may conduct a sexual risk assessment to determine other yearly test regimens.
A lot of people are quick to judge others with an STD. Chlamydia is just a simple bacterial infection of your privates that you got from doing the nasty with someone who had an STD. Having sexually transmitted diseases doesn't make you dirty. It is just a fact of life. There is a pretty good chance that everyone will get an STD in their life at some point. Most of them will go away pretty easily, like gonorrhea, chlamydia, and crabs. Other less-fortunate people will catch a much worse disease like HIV, something for which there is no cure. Have you heard of suicide by cop? It's when someone does something on purpose to get shot by the police. Well, there is another form of suicide--I call it suicide by stupidity. Like smoking cigarettes even though you know they cause cancer. Or having unprotected sex even though you know eventually you're gonna catch an STD. These are just two examples of stupid things people do daily. Why? Because everything can be rationalized. Ask someone and you might hear this common rationalization: "We all got to go sometime." Simply stupid. Be safe; use protection.