HealthSheets™


Chlamydia

Chlamydia is a very common sexually transmitted infection (STI). An STD is, also called a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Most people don't have symptoms. Because of this, chlamydia may not be noticed until it's passed to someone else or it causes severe problems. Left untreated, this infection may make it hard or impossible for women and men to have children.

Symptoms

Many people with chlamydia have no symptoms. Women are more likely than men not to have symptoms.

If symptoms show up in women, they include:

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge

  • Bleeding between periods

  • Pain or burning during urination

If symptoms show up in men, they include:

  • Clear discharge (drip) from the penis

  • Pain or burning during urination

  • Rectal pain, discharge, or bleeding, especially in men who have sex with men

These symptoms usually disappear after a few weeks, with or without treatment. But if you are not treated, the chlamydia will still be present. It can cause long-term problems.

Potential problems

If the infection is not treated, it can lead to more serious health problems. In women, this can be pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID can make it hard or even impossible for a women to have a baby. It can also cause an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy. This type of pregnancy can't be carried to term. Symptoms of PID include fever, pain during sex, and pain in the belly. In men, an untreated chlamydia infection can damage the testes. This can causepain and scarring. This can possibly affect the ability to have children. Chlamydia of the rectal area can cause serious damage. This includes infection and holes (fistulas).

Sexually active women and men should get checked for chlamydia regularly. This can help prevent PID.

Treatment

Chlamydia can be treated when found early. It can be cured with antibiotics. If you have it, tell your partner right away. Because people often don’t have symptoms, those diagnosed with chlamydia should ask their partners to get tested.

Prevention

Know your partner’s history. Protect yourself by using a latex condom whenever you have sex. If you are pregnant, take extra care to get correct treatment. Pregnant women with untreated chlamydia can pass the infection on to the baby. This can cause eye, ear, or lung problems in the baby. There is also the risk of a premature delivery.

Resources

American Sexual Health Association 919-361-8400 www.ashasexualhealth.org/

CDC  800-232-4636  www.cdc.gov/std

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