Chlamydia: Symptoms and Consequences of Infection

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis. Because it is often associated with no symptoms, it is also called “The Silent Disease.” Facts about chlamydia show that more than 75% of women and 50% of men exhibit no symptoms when suffering from the disease. Chlamydia is one of the most commonly occurring STDs, affecting over 3 million people each year in the United States. It can be cured easily with antibiotics, though treatment should begin as soon as possible. Prolonged infection can cause infertility and damage to the reproductive organs.

Symptoms of Chlamydia
If you have chlamydia, chances are that you may exhibit few symptoms. Chlamydia symptoms may be mild and can easily go undetected. Women are more likely to experience few symptoms associated with the infection although chlamydia in men can also result in few or no symptoms. Signs of chlamydia usually appear between 1 and 3 weeks after infection, though sometimes they can take longer to manifest.

Early chlamydia signs and symptoms tend to be mild and include pain during urination, frequent urination, and low fever. Later symptoms can be more intense and include nausea, fatigue, and abnormal discharge from the vagina or penis. Oral chlamydia, usually passed through oral sex, can result in a sore throat and throat infection. In anal infections, swelling of the rectum can occur. Though rare, males suffering from the disease may experience swelling of the testicles. Other symptoms in women include abdominal pain, lower back pain, irregular menstrual bleeding or spotting, and pain during sex.

If you think you may be infected, or are exhibiting any symptoms of chlamydia, get tested. It is important to treat the disease as soon as possible, as prolonged exposure can cause serious damage to the reproductive organs.

Consequences of Infection
If left untreated, chlamydia can move through the body causing serious health problems. As the infection travels, it can cause eye and throat infections as well as rectal infections. Long-term infection can lead to damage in the uterus and fallopian tubes in women and, in rare cases, sterility in men. Chlamydia in women also leads to an increased risk for developing Pelvic Inflammatory Disease(PID), which can cause fertility problems.

As many as 500 000 PID cases in the United States are due to chlamydia infection. Of these cases, 100 000 women become infertile. Women with chlamydia are also at a higher risk of developing ectopic pregnancies. Chlamydia in men leads to an increased risk of developing epididymitis, which can result in sterility.

Chlamydia infection is dangerous to newborns. If you are pregnant and infected with chlamydia, get tested, because you can pass the infection to your child. Chlamydia infection also increases the risk of contracting HIV. Women with chlamydia are up to 5 times more likely to contract HIV, the virus that leads to AIDS. In rare cases, chlamydia can cause Reiter’s syndrome, a disease characterized by arthritis, skin lesions, and inflammation of the urethra and eyes.

Learn more about chlamydia symptoms with facts and photos at STDs in Color.

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