Chlamydia is a relatively harmless sexually transmitted infection that must be treated before it causes major health problems.
Many of us would remember the hilarious Sex And The City episode where Miranda goes for a routine exam and her doctor tells her that she has chlamydia. The doctor also tells her to abstain from sex and take a series of medications till she is ‘all cleared up’. Miranda wonders how she got it, but she follows her doctor’s advice and is healthy again.
In reality, chlamydia can remain undetected and untreated for really long. That is because it does not immediately show any symptoms. Regular sexual health testing can catch it early. It has the potential to inflict serious damage to the female reproductive system – it may cause infertility and make it difficult to conceive a child. In some cases, it can also cause ectopic pregnancies leading to the loss of the foetus.
What is chlamydia?
It is a bacterial infection passed on through intimate contact, via vaginal, anal and oral sex. It is an extremely common STD, and the infection is carried in vaginal fluids and also semen and pre-ejaculate liquid. However, the STD can affect not just the penis, vagina and anus, but also the urethra, cervix, eyes and throat.
You can get chlamydia through vaginal and anal sex, for the most part. However, there are chances of getting it through oral sex, but never through casual contact such as kissing, hugging, eating from the plate of an infected person, using a toilet seat last used by an infected person, etc. However, pregnant women with chlamydia may spread the infection to their unborn babies.
Strangely enough, most people do not exhibit any symptoms of chlamydia. This is why the STD often goes undetected and untreated. The symptoms may not become clear till after several weeks have elapsed since contracting the infection. Often, the most common symptom is a burning sensation or pain while urinating.
Women can report a heavy vaginal discharge that is near-constant, while infected men may also notice a discharge from the penis. When present in the anal tract, it may show symptoms such as bleeding, discharge and pain in the rectal cavity.
This STD is prevalent among those who have multiple sexual partners, or who do not use condoms during sex. It is easily treatable with antibiotics over a course of two weeks. Condoms work well against the STD, so you can have sex with a condom on. In fact, this is yet another reason for wearing condoms during sex – whether you or a partner has chlamydia, and especially if you have a new sexual partner, it pays to be safe from STDs.
And, like Miranda, do make sure you inform your recent sexual partners that you carry the infection, and that they should get tested, too.