Chlamydia Infection: Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors, and Treatment

What is chlamydia infection?

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by bacteria. Early stages of chlamydia infection usually go unnoticed because of lack of visible symptoms. If left untreated for long, chlamydia can lead to severe health issues, like infertility and miscarriages.

Avoid engaging in unprotected sexual intercourse with anyone whose status you are not aware of. You should get tested every time you might be exposed.

Signs and Symptoms of Chlamydia Infection

In most cases, symptoms of chlamydia does not appear in people with the infection. If symptoms do appear, it’s usually one to three weeks after you’ve been exposed to the infection.

Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • lower abdominal pain
  • burning sensation during urination
  • yellow or green discharge from the penis or vagina
  • pain in the testicles
  • painful sexual intercourse in women (dyspareunia)

The infection can spread to the fallopian tubes which may lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). The symptoms of PID are:

  • fever
  • severe pelvic pain
  • nausea
  • bleeding between periods

In men and women, STIs symptoms can be different. So consult your doctor if you experience any of the above symptoms.

Causes of Chlamydia Infection

Chlamydia can be gotten when you engage in protected genital and oral sex. Just merely touching genitals, without even penetrating can expose you to the infection. It can also be contracted during anal sex.

Infected mothers can pass on chlamydia infection to their newborn babies during birth. Most prenatal testing includes a chlamydia test. However, ensure you get tested during your first prenatal checkup.

An uncommon way you can also get chlamydia infection is in the eye through oral or genital contact with the eyes.

Risk factors of Chlamydia Infection

  • Being female

Though men and women are both liable get the infection, but women are more likely to be diagnosed. The rates of infection is peak among younger women, because their immature cervical cells are more susceptible to infection. This doesn’t mean older women can’t get it too.

  • Having had an STI in the past

If you have had an STI if the past or currently living with an infection, your risk of getting chlamydia will be higher. This is because your resistance will be lowered, thereby exposing you to the infection.

  • Act of sexual assault

Any act of sexual attack exposes you to risk for chlamydia and other STIs. If you were forced into any sexual activity, including oral sex, you should get tested immediately.

Diagnosing chlamydia

To diagnose chlamydia infection properly, your doctor may ask about your symptoms. The most effective diagnostic test for chlamydia is to swab the vagina in women and to test the urine in men. If there’s a chance the infection is in your anus or throat, these areas may be swabbed as well.

Treating chlamydia

Chlamydia can be treated by taking oral antibiotics given either in multiple doses or just one dose. Take all medication as prescribed until the pills finishes. Avoid waiting for too long to treat chlamydia, else it can lead to severe complications. Make sure you talk to a doctor as soon as you think you might have been exposed.

Doctors usually prescribe an antibiotic called Azithromycin in a single, large dose, but the dose may also be spread out over five days. Another antibiotic is Doxycycline which must be taken twice per day for about one week.

Your doctor may prescribe other antibiotics. No matter which antibiotic you’re given, you’ll need to follow the dosage instructions carefully to make sure the infection clears up fully. This can take up to two weeks, even with the single-dose medications.

You must avoid sex during the course of your treatment time. You can get chlamydia if you’re exposed again, even if you’ve treated a previous infection.

Complications in Female

Some women who waited for too long before treating chlamydia may develop PID, an infection that can damage the uterus, cervix, and ovaries.

PID can also leave the fallopian tubes scarred, thereby leading to infertility. Pregnant women with the infection can pass the bacteria to their babies during birth, thereby exposing the babies to pneumonia and even eye infections.

Complications in Male

For men, untreated chlamydia can lead to epididymitis. The epididymis (tube that holds the testicles in place), may become inflamed, leading to pain. Infected men can also develop a condition called male chlamydial urethritis.

Chlamydia infection can also spread to the prostate gland, causing a fever, painful intercourse, and discomfort in the lower back.

How to prevent chlamydia

To prevent chlamydia infection, avoid unprotected sex. Always use a condom during sexual intercourse, unless you’re absolutely certain your partner isn’t carrying the infection. Avoid having oral sex, or use protection during oral sex, until your partner gets tested for the infection.

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Disclaimer: The content provided on is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical doctor or healthcare professional.

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