Chlamydia is a common bacterial sexually transmitted infections (STI) that you get by having unprotected sex with someone who is already infected.
Chlamydia infections are often ‘silent’ with few noticeable symptoms.
If left untreated Chlamydia infections can spread to other parts of the body and cause pain, especially in the abdomen, and may lead to infertility and long term pelvic pain.
Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted infection.
Both women and men are affected
Chlamydia is transmitted during vaginal, anal, or oral sex, and any sexually active person can be infected.
Chlamydia can also be passed from an infected mother to her baby during normal childbirth.
Teenage girls and young women can be more susceptible to infection because the cervix is not fully matured, and they are at particularly high risk of infection if sexually active.
Symptoms of Chlamydia
Chlamydia is a silent infection with the majority of women experiencing no symptoms. The only way to be sure if you have one of these infections is to do a test.
If symptoms do occur, they usually show between 1-3 weeks after either infection. Both bacteria can also lie dormant for long periods of time, suddenly becoming symptomatic.
Symptoms in women:
▪ pain during urination.
▪ pain in the lower abdomen.
▪ unusual vaginal discharge.
▪ pain during sex.
Since Chlamydia infections are rarely symptomatic, it is easy to infect others without knowing it.
Treatment of Chlamydia infection.
Chlamydia infections are treated with antibiotics. If you have an infection you will need to speak with your doctor to get an antibiotic.
It is recommended that all sex partners should also be tested and should abstain from sexual intercourse for 7 days after single dose antibiotics or until completion of a 7-day course of antibiotics, to prevent spreading the infection to partners.
If left untreated Chlamydia can lead to a number of health problems in women:
▪ Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID): This occurs when the bacteria infect the cells of the cervix, which then spreads to the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries causing permanent scarring. The scarring can lead to infertility. It can occur in up to 40% of women with untreated Chlamydia.
▪ PID can also cause ectopic or tubal pregnancy where the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus. It is a medical emergency.
▪ Chronic pelvic pain due to scarring
▪ Cystitis: inflammation of the bladder.