Health & Wellness

The Most Common STDs: Everything To Know About Chlamydia

With the surge of digital dating, it’s important to be well-informed about the most common STDs. One of them is chlamydia.

Like other STDs, chlamydia is caused by bacteria. It can be passed through sexual contact with someone who has the infection. Before you get yourself tested with a Chlamydia Test at home, read on to learn everything you need to know about chlamydia.

What is Chlamydia?

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can cause serious health problems if left untreated. It is caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis and is usually spread through sexual contact with an infected person.

Chlamydia can infect both men and women and can be passed from an infected mother to her baby during childbirth. There are different strains of chlamydia, and some can cause a more serious form of the disease known as lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV).

Technically, Chlamydia is a genus of bacteria, most of which cause no harm to humans. There are, however, a few strains that can cause an STI. 

Sometimes known as ‘the silent infection,’ this STD often has no symptoms, which is one of the reasons why it’s so prevalent. It is estimated that around 3 million Americans have chlamydia, most of them under the age of 25.

C. pneumoniae

This is a type of chlamydia that most often affects the respiratory system, causing pneumonia. It is spread through contact with respiratory secretions, such as saliva, mucus, or blood, from an infected person.

C. trachomatis

This is the most common type of chlamydia and is responsible for most chlamydia infections (one of the most common STDs). It is usually spread through sexual contact with an infected person.

C. psittaci

This type of chlamydia affects birds but can be passed to humans through contact with infected birds, such as through feathers, droppings, or meat. It can cause a serious respiratory infection in humans.

How is Chlamydia transmitted?

Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that is transmitted through sexual contact. The most common way to contract chlamydia is through unprotected vaginal or anal sex. It can also be transmitted through oral sex.

Chlamydia is most commonly found in young adults aged 15-24. However, it can occur at any age. As long as you are sexually active, you are at risk of contracting the infection.

What are the symptoms of chlamydia?

  • Painful urination
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Unusual discharge from the genitals
  • Pain in the pelvis (lower belly)
  • Bleeding
  • Burning or itching around the genitals

Is chlamydia curable?

Thankfully, Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that can be easily treated with antibiotics. However, if left untreated, chlamydia can cause serious health problems, including the following:

  • Infertility (inability to get pregnant) in women
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women
  • Chronic pelvic pain in women
  • Increased risk of HIV infection

In both men and women, chlamydia can also lead to a condition called reactive arthritis, which causes inflammation of the joints. Reactive arthritis is often accompanied by inflammation of the eyes and urethra.

What are the risk factors for chlamydia?

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There are several risk factors for chlamydia, including:

  • Unprotected sexual intercourse (not using a condom)
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • A history of sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Sexual activity at a young age
  • Being a woman of childbearing age (15-24 years old)

These risk factors increase your chances of coming into contact with the bacteria that cause chlamydia. However, it is important to remember that anyone who engages in unprotected sex is at risk of contracting an STI.

What are the severe effects of chlamydia?

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the reproductive organs that can occur when bacteria from chlamydia and other STDs spread from the vagina to the uterus and fallopian tubes.

If PID is left untreated, it can cause permanent damage to your reproductive system and make it difficult or impossible for you to get pregnant later on. In some cases, PID can even lead to life-threatening complications.

Epididymitis

While not as common as PID, chlamydia can also cause a painful infection in the epididymis. This is the tube that carries sperm from the testicle. Chlamydia-related epididymitis often requires antibiotics to clear the infection and can lead to long-term pain.

Ectopic pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg becomes stuck outside of the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube. This is a potentially life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention.

Reiter’s syndrome

Reiter’s syndrome is a rare condition that can develop after a chlamydia infection. It causes joint pain, eye irritation, and burning urination. In some cases, it can also lead to blindness. Chlamydia can cause Reiter’s syndrome even if you don’t have any symptoms of the infection.

Infertility

While chlamydia doesn’t always lead to infertility, it can damage the reproductive system and make it difficult to get pregnant. In men, chlamydia can cause scarring in the urethra, which can block sperm from passing through. In women, chlamydia can damage the fallopian tubes, making it difficult for eggs to travel from the ovaries to the uterus.

How do you test for chlamydia?

There are a few different ways that chlamydia can be tested for. A healthcare provider can take a swab from the vagina, rectum, or urethra and test it for the presence of the bacteria. They can also do a urine test. Blood tests are not typically used to test for chlamydia.

There are also STD tests that can be purchased online or over the counter that use a urine or swab sample. These tests are not as accurate as the ones used by healthcare providers and may give false positive or false negative results.

If you get a positive result from a home test, you must see a healthcare provider to confirm the result and get treatment.

Chlamydia home testing process

At-home STD testing kits are available for chlamydia. You can purchase a kit from a pharmacy or online. The most common home test kits use a urine sample or swab. Typically, you will collect the sample yourself and then send it off to a laboratory for testing.

The test detects the presence of chlamydia bacteria in your sample. If the bacteria are present, you will need to see a healthcare provider for treatment.

If you test positive for chlamydia, tell your current and past sexual partners so that they can get tested and treated if necessary. You should also abstain from sexual activity until you have completed the full course of treatment.

Related: Chlamydia: How to Recognize, Diagnose, Treat and Prevent It 

How is chlamydia treated?

Chlamydia is most often treated with antibiotics. The most common antibiotics used to treat chlamydia are azithromycin and doxycycline.

Treatment typically involves taking a pill for a week or two. In some cases, multiple doses may be required. 

It is important to take the entire course of antibiotics even if your symptoms go away. Failure to do so can lead to the infection coming back and potentially causing more serious health problems.

If you are pregnant, you will need to be treated with a different antibiotic than azithromycin. This is because there is a risk that azithromycin can harm the developing baby.

Conclusion

Chlamydia is a common STD that can cause serious health problems if it is not treated. Chlamydia can be tested for with a urine test or swab. 

The key to preventing chlamydia is to practice safe sex by using condoms or abstaining from sexual activity. If you think you may have chlamydia, it is important to get tested and treated as soon as possible.

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Jen Hensey

Hi, I’m Jen! I’m a Financial Consultant and I’m a mother of two lovely daughters, Aira and Ellie. I love eating (yes eating, not cooking! LOL), writing, and spending time with my little girls! We’re based in the Golden State of USA, California!

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