You’re fairly certain you have chlamydia. You’ve scoured the Internet, and it seems that the most common chlamydia symptoms are spot on with what you’re experiencing. And don’t worry, more than 200,000 people are diagnosed with this STD in the United States per year.
But the best way to protect yourself is to have a full understanding of chlamydia and what it entails.
What is Chlamydia?
Very similar in nature to gonorrhea, chlamydia is an infection that is caused by the Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria. The most commonly reported sexually transmitted disease in the United States, chlamydia can infect both men and women.
And the symptoms can vary from a man and woman (more on this soon).
Many cases of chlamydia go unreported because the infected person does not exhibit any symptoms. When symptoms are not present, the person is still in danger as the infection is allowed to fester.
Permanent damage can result from not getting treatment, including damage to a woman’s fallopian tubes. Other female-related concerns, include:
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Low birth weight
- Preterm labor
Seeking out treatment is the best course of action if you have any chlamydia symptoms – it will not get better on its own. It’s also important to get tested for chlamydia on a regular basis, typically every three months, if you have multiple sex partners.
What Causes Chlamydia?
The causes of chlamydia all revolve around sexual intercourse. The bacteria are spread through intercourse to the partner that becomes infected.
Bacteria can reside in the following areas:
What does this mean?
You can contract chlamydia from virtually every type of sexual contact:
If your partner is infected and you have had any of the above sexual contact with him or her, it’s time to get tested.
Younger people that are sexually active are at higher risk of contracting chlamydia from a partner.
Note: You can get this STD even after treatment. Recurring infections can occur. You and your partner(s) need to be tested and treated to ensure that the infection does not continue to be spread.
Mothers can pass this disease to their unborn child. As the baby is passed through the vaginal canal, they can contract chlamydia from their mother. The baby may suffer from pneumonia and eye damage as a result.
The Most Common Signs of Chlamydia
Often called the “silent infection,” it’s important to know that most people that have chlamydia do not experience any symptoms. While this may seem like a good thing, it presents a problem because the person does not know to seek treatment.
As a result, a person will continue to spread chlamydia to others unknowingly.
And the symptoms for men and women are slightly different.
Chlamydia Symptoms in Men
Men have a difficult time spotting symptoms of chlamydia. The main reason for this is that the symptoms can be random or infrequent. The randomness of the symptoms will lead to a person thinking that the symptom was an odd occurrence and not due to the infection.
The symptoms that men will experience are:
- Discharge: White, watery or cloudy discharge can be seen exiting the tip of the penis.
- Urination Pain: Burning sensation or extreme discomfort when urinating
- Testicles: A man’s testicles can become painful, tender and inflamed.
When a man does exhibit symptoms (remember, not all men do), they will usually present themselves within three weeks of being exposed. There are also symptoms that may be experienced in different areas of the body outside of the genitals.
Since this infection can be spread to other areas of the body, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Eyes: Conjunctivitis or reddening of the eyes
- Throat: Pain and infection of the throat
- Rectal: Pain when going to the bathroom, bleeding and discharge can occur
Long-term issues for men can include becoming infertile and damage to the reproductive tract.
Chlamydia Symptoms in Women
Women also have sporadic symptoms which can change from one person to the next. The main issue that women face, if left untreated, is that they can become infertile or have pregnancy complications.
There is also the chance of spreading the infection to a baby during delivery.
So, it’s important to be able to spot the symptoms that do occur so that swift treatment can follow. The most common symptoms among women sufferers include:
- Discharge: Vaginal discharge can occur
- Pain: Pain during sex or in the abdomen
- Urination Pain: Pain when urinating, burning or even blood in the urine may be experienced
- Frequent Urination: The feeling of needing to urinate frequently or the actual need to continue urinating may be experienced
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) can be a result of untreated chlamydia. If a woman experiences any of the following symptoms, she likely has PID and chlamydia:
- Pelvic pain
- Abdominal pain
Again, women are at a severe risk when they have any STD because it may be transmitted to a child if they’re pregnant. Women may also become infertile if the infection is not treated properly.
Chlamydia Treatment Options
The chlamydia symptoms above can be treated. You will need to seek proper testing (more on that below), and there are many treatment options available. The good news is that all you’ll need is an antibiotic in most cases.
Since this is a bacterial infection, the antibiotic will cause all of your symptoms to disappear.
Two main antibiotics are given:
- Azithromycin: Normally provided in a large dose, this antibiotic may also be given for a period of 5 days to clear the infection.
- Doxycycline: Another form of antibiotics, this antibiotic is given in smaller doses twice daily. You’ll be required to take this medication for 5 – 7 days in most cases.
Dosage requirements will be provided to you by your doctor.
It’s important that you do not have sex of any kind at this time as you can still get chlamydia. Following the end of your medication requirements, the antibiotics will continue to fight the infection for up to two weeks.
Keep in mind that chlamydia is cured following the antibiotic treatment. If both you and your partner seek treatment, you’ll be able to live a healthy life, chlamydia-free. But it is important to note that you will not be immune to future infections.
You can get chlamydia again if you do not practice safe sex.
Women are at a higher risk of reinfection and will need to ensure that their partners are treated. Furthermore, women will also be at a higher risk of reproductive complications with each recurring infection.
Chlamydia Home Test Options
When you have chlamydia symptoms, it’s important to take a test to find out if you’re positive. Since this STD is so prevalent, there are at-home tests that can be taken to determine if you’re positive.
There are two main ways to test if you have chlamydia:
- Urine Sample: You’ll need to refrain for urinating for two hours prior to the test, but a urine sample is very accurate. The most common in-home options, these tests are often called nucleic acid amplification tests. These tests have a very low error rate when stating that the tester is positive.
- Culture Samples: A culture can be taken from a woman to determine if she has chlamydia. These tests must be done in the lab and will take up to 7 days to produce results. Cultures allow the bacteria to grow in a special cup to determine if you’re positive or not.
Women may also have to undergo a pelvic exam.
If a woman has pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or a cervical infection, the doctor will have to provide further testing at this time for an accurate diagnosis.
If you believe that you have chlamydia or have been sexually active with someone that has chlamydia, it’s important to get tested and seek treatment as soon as possible.