What is Chlamydia?

  • Caused by the sexually transmitted bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis
  • Most commonly bacterial sexually transmitted disease in the United States

Transmission

  • Can be spread to rectum through contact with bodily fluids from anal sex or throat with oral sex
  • Women may be re-infected if their partners are not treated

Complications in Pregnancy

  • In pregnancy, untreated Chlamydia can lead to premature delivery
  • Pregnant women may pass Chlamydial infections to their babies during delivery which may result in infections in the eyes or lungs
  • Chlamydia is the #1 leading cause of blindness in 3rd world countries

Diagnosis

  • Diagnosed by lab tests requiring a specimen taken from a site such as the cervix or penis
  • May be diagnosed through the urine

Treatment

  • Chlamydia is easily treated with antibiotics
  • All sex partners should be notified, evaluated, tested, and treated
  • Persons with Chlamydia should abstain from sexual contact until they and their sex partners have completed their treatment

Symptoms

  • Usually women have no symptoms which may result in irreversible damage including infertility
  • Symptoms in women, if they occur, may appear at about 1-3 weeks after exposure and consist of unusual vaginal discharge and/or burning with urination
  • Some women may experience lower abdominal pain, low back pain, nausea, fever, pain during intercourse, or bleeding between menstrual periods
  • Most men have no discharge but may have discharge from the penis , burning with urination or itching around the opening of the penis

Complications

  • Major cause of infertility, ectopic pregnancy and pelvic pain in the U.S.
  • May result in pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) which occurs when the infection spreads from the cervix to the fallopian tubes  resulting in permanent damage to the fallopian tubes, uterus and surrounding tissues
  • Chlamydial infections can facilitate the transmission of HIV infection

Prevention

  • Prevention is best achieved by abstinence from sexual contact, or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship
  • The use of latex male condoms consistently and correctly can reduce the risk of transmission
  • CDC recommends screening all sexually active women younger than 26 annually  and for older women with risk factors including a new sex partner or multiple sex partners
  • All pregnant women should be screened for Chlamydia
  • Women and men with new partners should be tested for all sexually transmitted diseases
  • Transmission of an STD cannot be prevented by washing the genitals, urinating, and/or douching after sex
  • Cannot be spread through contact with toilet seats, doorknobs, swimming pools, hot tubs, bathtubs, shared clothing, eating utensils