What is Chlamydia
Chlamydia is the most common treatable Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI), also called a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD). It may present no symptoms in men or women until it leads to complications. Chlamydia is caused by bacteria, which are found in urethral secretions and vaginal fluid and is easily passed from one person to another.
In some women, infection can damage the Fallopian tubes, which carry eggs from the ovaries to the womb. This can stop the tubes working properly and they can become completely blocked.
Chlamydia is the most common preventable cause of infertility in women. When the fallopian tubes are blocked, pregnancy is unlikely to occur naturally.
Infection sometimes leads to pain in the lower abdomen that is often mistaken for some other problem rather than pelvic infection.
In men chlamydia is the most common cause of inflammation in the testicles and sperm-conducting tubes (epididymo-orchitis) in men under 35. This causes marked pain, swelling and redness in the scrotum on the affected side, or on both sides. Chlamydia infection can also trigger joint inflammation in some men. Chlamydia is commonly misspelled, such as chlamidia, clamidia, clamydia, but no matter how it is spelt the conditions and potential long term implications remain the same - if in doubt seek medical advice
Symptoms of Chlamydia
80% of women will have no symptoms. Some women will have symptoms such as cystitis, change in vaginal discharge or mild lower abdominal pain. Other features include bleeding between periods, or pain during sex. These are very 'non-specific’ symptoms and can be caused by other infections and diseases.
50% of men will have no symptoms. Chlamydia is the most common cause of urethral discharge from the penis, this can be a white/cloudy and watery discharge.
Chlamydia can cause mild irritation at the end of the penis, or pain passing urine, or cause a burning sensation on passing urine. These symptoms sometimes disappear after two or three days.
Unfortunately, the discomfort may disappear but the infection can still be present. They can, therefore, transmit it to a sexual partner and also risk the complication of inflamed and swollen testicles.
Testing for Chlamydia
Testing or screening for Chlamydia requires a vist to the STD/STI Clinic where tests can be undertaken by the dotor. Testing or screening for Chlamydia in women requires taking a swab taken from the cervix (neck of the womb) during a speculum examination (ie similar to a smear test).
For men a swab will be taken from the entrance of the urethra, and a sample of urine is sent to be tested.
Chlamydia PCR test results for men are available the next day.
Test results are available by telephone or email.
Treatment of Chlamydia
Chlamydia is treated with prescription antibiotics such as azithromycin (Zithromax) or erythromycin. The infection should clear within one to two weeks. Your sexual partner or partners also need treatment even though they may not have signs or symptoms. Otherwise, the infection will pass back and forth. Failure to treat chlamydia can cause complications in both women and men.
Complications of Chlamydia
Each year up to 1 million women in the United States develop PID, a serious infection of the reproductive organs. As many as half of all cases of PID may be due to chlamydial infection, and many of these women don’t have symptoms. PID can cause scarring of the fallopian tubes, which can block the tubes and prevent fertilization from taking place. Researchers estimate that 100,000 women each year become infertile because of PID. In other cases, scarring may interfere with the passage of the fertilized egg to the uterus during pregnancy. When this happens, the egg may attach itself to the fallopian tube. This is called ectopic or tubal pregnancy. This very serious condition results in a miscarriage and can cause death of the mother.
In men, untreated chlamydial infections may lead to pain or swelling in the scrotal area. This is a sign of inflammation of the epididymis (a series of small tubes, attached to the back of each testicle). Though complications in men are rare, infection could cause, pain, fever, and sterility.
Prevention of Chlamydia
Use condoms. Use a male latex condom or a female polyurethane condom during each sexual contact. Condoms, used properly during every sexual encounter, reduce but don't eliminate the risk of infection.
Limit your number of sex partners. Having multiple sex partners puts you at a high risk of contracting Chlamydia or other sexually transmitted diseases.
Get regular screenings for sexually transmitted diseases. If you're sexually active, particularly if you have multiple partners, talk with your doctor about how often you should be screened for Chlamydia and other sexually transmitted diseases.
I may have Chlamydia
If you have any concerns relating to this condition, or any conditions described on this website, please contact the Sunshine Clinic by telephone to arrange an appointment with Dr Sood,
on 0845 505 0552