CHLAMYDIA


Chlamydia Information & Help

Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases. Information including symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, transmission, prevention and other general information.

Chlamydia is actually a group of different infections caused by different strains of the Chlamydia bacterium:

  • Chlamydia trachomatis causes sexually transmitted diseases, i.e CHLAMYDIA
  • Chlamydia pneumonia causes a type of walking pneumonia
  • Chlamydia psittaci causes a type of pneumonia caused by birds

Chlamydia trachomatis is currently one of the most common and widespread bacterial STD’s in the United States. It is estimated that more than 4 million people are infected each year. Rates of Chlamydia in the United States are highest in the West and Midwest, with Missouri having above average numbers.

As many as 1 in 10 adolescent girls tested for Chlamydia is infected.

Teenage girls have the highest rates of chlamydia infection regardless of demographics or location:

  • 15-19 year old girls 46% of infections
  • 20-24 year old women 33% of infections

Chlamydia infection is widespread geographically and highly prevalent among these economically disadvantaged young women between 16 and 24 years old.

‘In Australia in the Kimberly area Australian Aboriginal children as young as 10 to 12 are being diagnosed with Chlamydia’ (SBS Dateline)

People infected with Chlamydia often have no symptoms therefore are often unaware they are infected and may not seek professional health care.

Approximately:

  • 50% of men
  • 75% of women

Infection caused by the Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Chlamydia are generally curable, can be transmitted

  • during oral, vaginal, or anal sex with an infected partner
  • from a mother to her newborn baby during delivery

When diagnosed, Chlamydia can be easily treated and cured. Untreated, Chlamydia can cause serious long and short term health problems in men and women as well as in newborn babies of infected mothers, including pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can cause:

  • Infertility
  • Tubal pregnancy (which can sometimes be fatal)

Chlamydia may also result in problems for the newborn such as:

  • neonatal conjunctivitis
  • pneumonia

CHLAMYDIA SYMPTOMS

Asymptomatic

It is called Asymptomatic if there are no symptoms

  • In the beginning Chlamydia may not make you feel anything so you may not even know you have it
  • It can just come and go

Those who do notice that they have this infection will have certain symptoms for weeks or months, depending on the severity of the infection and whether treatment was undertaken early, or not at all. But, as it gets worse, you will begin to experience different symptoms

In Pre-puberty Girls

  • Vaginal discharge and odor (Vaginitis)

In Post-puberty Girls

  • Discharge (off-white) and odor which comes from the cervix being infected

In Women

Chlamydia is often silent in women, with up to 90% of women asymptomatic. Women can carry the bacteria for months or even years without knowing it. This makes screening very important.

Symptoms can start to occur within 3 weeks after getting the infection and include the following:

  • Constant lower abdominal pain
  • Mild, milky or yellow mucus-like vaginal discharge
  • Nausea and fever
  • Pain during urination
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Spotting between periods

Chlamydia can also lead to:

Cervicitis which is inflammation of the cervix.

  • 5-13% of the women in the U.S. who get Chlamydia get cervicitis.

Salpingitis which is inflammation of the fallopian tubes

Ectopic Pregnancy

If a pregnant woman has Chlamydia trachomatis the risk of an Ectopic pregnancy is much higher. This is where the fetus does not grow in the womb but in the ectopic tubes.

Chlamydia can silently linger for months without symptoms and the infection may move inside the body if it is not treated, where it may cause:

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) causes:

  • infertility
  • chronic pain
  • even death

In men

Chlamydia causes something called NON-SPECIFIC URETHRITIS (NSU) which can produce symptoms such as:

  • Burning on urination (non-gonoccocal urethritis (NGU))
  • Groin pain and swelling (Epididymitis)
  • Irritation around opening of the penis
  • Mild, sticky, milky or mucus-like discharge from penis
  • Pain when urinating
  • Swollen testes (which if not treated can lead to infertility)
  • Testicular pain

Symptoms may seem to “come and go”

In babies

  • 1/4 of babies passing down the infected birth canal will get Chlamydia Pneumonia
  • 1/2 of all babies born to infected women after delivery through the birth canal will develop Chlamydial Conjunctivitis (pink eye) a week after birth
  • In severe cases blindness may occur
  • The bacteria can be easily passed to the developing child within the uterus
  • The child may have respiratory diseases for a long time if not treated

Other conditions

  • The infection can occur in the Pharynx (throat) from oral-genital contact
  • The infection can be spread to the eyes causing inflammation of the lining of the eye (pink eye)
  • In tropical climates, a particular strain of C. trachomatis causes an STD called Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) which can get into the skin through tiny cuts.

After months or years it can spread to other lymph nodes causing:

  • Genital problems
  • Pain
  • Proctitis (inflamed rectum)
  • Skin breakdown (ulceration)
  • Swelling


TRANSMISSION OF CHLAMYDIA

The bacteria causing the infection is transmitted by direct person-to-person contact through:

  • Blood
  • Passing it to a baby during birth
  • Semen from the penis
  • Touching eyes when infected
  • Vaginal fluid

Risk Groups

  • Babies (from infected mothers)
  • Sexually active people, regardless of their sexual preference
  • Sexually active teenagers (about 45%)

CHLAMYDIA DIAGNOSIS & TESTING

If you have certain symptoms or feel differently to how you normally feel and have been with an infected person, go to a doctor for confirmation.

Chlamydial infection can be confused with Gonorrhea because the symptoms of both diseases are similar and in some situations they occur together.

Laboratory Tests

A sample of the patient’s genital secretions is tested in a laboratory using one of a wide variety of quick and inexpensive laboratory tests

Culture

Growing the organism in specialized tissue culture is one of the most definitive tests.

These tests are:

  • Difficult to do
  • Expensive

Test results not available for 3-7 days

DNA amplification

A process called DNA amplification is used to detect the genes of the organisms in genital secretions (urine). This method does not require an invasive sample, pelvic examination or swabbing of the penis

These tests are:

  • Less expensive
  • More rapid
  • Performed during a routine checkup
  • Slightly less accurate

Results available within 24 hours

Amplicor Chlamydia Trachomatis Test

Recently, a new chlamydia test became available called Amplicor Chlamydia Trachomatis Test, which is carried out using:

  • A sample of a man’s urine
  • A swab from a woman’s cervix or urethra

Results are available within 4 hours and not 3-7 days

Private Online STD Testing & Diagnosis Available:

 

STDCheck.com

  • 100% Confidential STD Testing
  • 5 Minute Testing- Results in 1 to 2 days
  • All Tests are FDA-Approved
  • Same Day STD Testing Available
  • Over 4,000 Testing Centers Nationwide



PREVENTION OF CHLAMYDIA

Due to lack of symptoms people who are infected with Chlamydia may unknowingly infect their sex partners.

If you are sexually active, you can lower your risk by following these guidelines:

Abstinence is the only way to be 100% sure of protection from Chlamydia and other sexually transmitted diseases

Drugs reduce your ability to make sensible decisions, such a:

becoming sexually intimate when drinking alcohol and/or taking drugs

Condoms or diaphragms should be used during sexual intercourse:

  • anal
  • oral
  • vaginal

Form a monogamous relationship

  • be tested before you have sex
  • both partners are faithful

Limit your number of sexual partners

  • risk increases as number of partners increases

Persons who have more than one sex partner, especially women under 25, should be tested regularly

Regular check-ups for STD’s

  • do not wait for symptoms to appear
  • testing should be part of your regular examination

Recommendations

  • Annual screening of all sexually active females under 20 years of age
  • Pregnant women should be tested
  • Women with infection of the cervix should be tested

Screening of women over 20 with one or more risk factors for Chlamydia:

  • Diaphragm contraception
  • Lack of condom
  • Multiple sex partners
  • New sex partner

CHLAMYDIA TREATMENT

Chlamydia can be in your body for a very long time unless treated with antibiotics. Usually this consists of a 7-10 day treatment program.

A number of antibiotics are used to treat Chlamydial infections including:

  • Amoxicillin
  • Azithromycin (one-day course)
  • Doxycycline (seven day course) *
  • Erythromycin *
  • Tetracycline (some people are allergic to the drug)
  • Ofloxacin

* able to be used during pregnancy

Note

  • Penicillin is not effective against Chlamydial infections
  • The prescribed medication should be taken, even after symptoms disappear, until advised by your health practitioner
  • All sexual partners of a person with Chlamydial infection need to be evaluated and treated to prevent re-infection

Screening and treatment of Chlamydia:

  • decreases the incidence of complications, such as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
  • reduces the prevalence of lower genital tract infection

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

If Chlamydia is untreated up to 40% of women with the infection will develop Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), a serious infection of the reproductive organs.

Each year up to 1 million women in the United States develop Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) and of those:

  • 18% will experience debilitating, chronic pelvic pain and discomfort
  • 20% will become infertile
  • an estimated 100,000 women will become infertile

As many as half of all cases of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) may be due to Chlamydial infection, often without symptoms, producing scarring of the fallopian tubes which can:

  • block the tubes and prevent fertilization occurring
  • interfere with the passage of the fertilized egg down into the uterus causing the egg to implant in the fallopian tube (ectopic or tubal pregnancy)
  • threaten the life of the mother and fetus

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) is the most common cause of pregnancy-related death among poor teenagers in the inner cites and rural areas of the United States

LONG TERM EFFECTS OF CHLAMYDIA

Complications

When treated early, there are no long term consequences of Chlamydia. Serious complications can result however when left untreated.

In men

Long term complications may include:

  • Epididymitis – an inflammation of the testicles that can cause sterility
  • Prostatitis – an infection of the prostate gland
  • Reiter’s Syndrome – an autoimmune, arthritis-like condition
  • Sterility

In women

Long term complication may include:

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

  • an infection that spreads from the vagina and cervix to the the lining of the uterus and fallopian tubes and can lead to sterility

Perihepatitis

  • an infection around the liver

Reiter’s Syndrome

  • an automimmune, arthritis-like condition

Sterility

Long term complication in infants may include:

  • Blindness
  • Ear infections
  • Eye infections
  • Pneumonia
  • Death

 

Effects of Chlamydia in Pregnancy & Newborns

Pregnancy

Of women with Pelvic inflammatory Disease caused by the Chlamydia infection, 9% will have a life-threatening tubal (ectopic pregnancy). Tubal pregnancy is the leading cause of first-trimester, pregnancy-related deaths in American women

Newborns

Chlamydia infection during pregnancy can result in Neonatal Conjunctivitis (eye infection) usually within the first ten days

Symptoms include:

  • eye discharge
  • swollen eyelids

Chlamydia infection during pregnancy can also result in Pneumonia, usually with 3-6 weeks

Symptoms include:

  • a progressively worsening cough
  • congestion

Both conditions can be treated successfully with antibiotics

Routine testing of pregnant women for Chlamydial infection is recommended because of the risks to newborn babies

Research

Screening

Where screening programs have been fully implemented significant progress has been made, however:

  • Adolescents continue to have the highest rates of disease
  • The reported rate of Chlamydia for women substantially exceeds the rate for men, due mainly to increased detection of asymptomatic infection in women through screening
  • Low rates of reported Chlamydia among men suggest that many of the partners of women with Chlamydia are not screened or treated

Future Needs

  • A successful program to include comprehensive screening and treatment for women and also for men
  • Recent advances have made available extremely accurate urine tests which make testing of males more feasible and less uncomfortable than older tests

Future Research

Scientists are looking for better ways to diagnose, treat, and prevent Chlamydial infection

Current research is being carried out on why C. trachomatis causes disease in the body and why some people suffer more severe complications than others.

This may give insight about how to recognize women at risk for Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) and Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) related infertility or other complications of Chlamydia infection

Two strategies are being researched to prevent infection:

  • a vaccine
  • topical microbicides

The genome for C. trachomatis has been recently sequenced. This will give scientists important information to develop a safe and effective vaccine.

Developing topical microbicides, which are preparations that can be inserted into the vagina to prevent infection), that are effective and easy for women to use is also a major research focus.