So you have an early diagnosis of Chlamydia. Congratulations. You are one of the lucky ones. With proper treatment you will be cured and suffer little long term effects.
Without prompt diagnosis and treatment, the consequences for a woman are severe:
Damage to the reproductive organs
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
Lifelong pelvic and lower back pain
Ectopic pregnancy (where the egg is fertilized and lodges in the fallopian tube)
In addition, an infected woman may pass the disease to her newborn child during vaginal birth.
Men, on the other hand, get off rather lightly. They may suffer from burning and itching around the opening of the penis, inflammation of the epididymis (the tube which carries sperm) with accompanying pain or fever. Sterility and other complications are rare.
The bacterium responsible for the infection is known as Chlamydia Trachomatis. It can be transmitted through oral, vaginal and anal intercourse. Both men and women can experience bleeding and painful rectal sores as well as sores in the mouth from engaging in rectal or oral intercourse with an infected partner.
Although statistics vary according to source and method of collection it is estimated that there are over 2 million cases at present in the United States, making it one of the most common Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) presenting itself today.
Initial symptoms are mild and often undetected. Couple this with the fact that they may not show up for several weeks after exposure and you have yourself a silent and sneaky little bacterium. Should either men or women experience a slight, but bad smelling, discharge or burning upon urination they should cease sexual activity and seek medical care immediately. In women, briefly appearing vaginal sores should also be investigated.
When the disease spreads from the cervix to a new foothold in the fallopian tubes, women may experience low back, low abdominal pain, painful intercourse, nausea and bleeding between periods. Do not ignore these symptoms. The wrath of your partner or your parent is nothing compared to the lifetime of misery you face if Chlamydia is left untreated.
The collection of samples for analysis is done at the clinic or doctor’s office. It is entirely painless, consisting of providing a urine sample or allowing the physician to swab either the penis or cervix for a slide which will be analyzed by a laboratory.
Once diagnosed, treatment is rapid and successful. Chlamydia responds to antibiotics such as azithromycin or doxycycline. All sex partners within the last two months should be identified, notified, tested and treated if necessary. Those infected should abstain from sexual intercourse in any form until treatment is complete and they are free of the disease.
The old adage that “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” applies here. The usual methods of prevention are recommended: abstinence, latex condoms, and mutually monogamous sexual relationships. Yearly testing is recommended for women under 25 with an active sex life, any woman or man entering into a new relationship or having multiple sexual partners.
More information on this Sexually Transmitted Disease is available from your physician, the Internet, National Centers for Disease Prevention and Control or local Sexually Transmitted Disease clinics.
If you suspect you have Chlamydia or any other STD please contact your family physician without delay.