Chlamydia sounds like a Latin name of an exotic flower. Let me assure you, it is not! The origin of word ‘chlamydia’ comes from a Greek word ‘khlamus, khlamud’ meaning ‘cloak.’
So much for a deceiving name – although - quite appropriate given just how deceiving chlamydia is.
Chlamydia is thought to be the most common sexually transmitted bacterial infection in the U.S. It can infect both men and women. How common is chlamydia? Here are some staggering numbers to consider:
- In 2013, 1,401,906 cases of chlamydia were reported
- Estimated 2.86 million infections occur annually
- Chlamydia prevalence among sexually-active young persons aged 14-24 years is nearly three times the prevalence among persons aged 25-39 years
- It is estimated that 1 in 15 sexually active females aged 14-19 years has chlamydia
HOW DO PEOPLE GET CHLAMYDIA?
Chlamydia is spread through unprotected vaginal or anal penetration. It can also be transmitted through the mouth – aka – oral sex! Even if your partner does not ejaculate, you can still get chlamydia.
If you are thinking, “I had chlamydia in the past, got it fully treated, and now I got antibodies against it,” think again! Reality is you can still get infected AGAIN if you have unprotected sex with someone who has chlamydia. That’s just how deceptive it is!
WARNING: PREGNANT OR PLANNING ON HAVING A BABY?
This is important, so pay attention! Chlamydia can also be spread perinatally from an untreated mother to her baby during childbirth. This can result in ophthalmia neonatorum (another deceptive name!) or pneumonia in some exposed infants. Having chlamydia may also make it more likely to deliver your baby too early.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Chlamydia is known as a ‘silent’ infection. HA! Told you it was deceptive! This is because most infected people are asymptomatic. About 50% of men and 75% of women have no symptoms. Deceptive indeed!
Absence of symptoms does not equal absence of infection. Even when chlamydia causes no symptoms, it can damage women’s reproductive system. When symptoms do occur, they can include:
- Discharge from the penis or vagina (the discharge may have an unpleasant odor)
- Burning with urination
- Spotting after penetration
- Painful penetration
- Swelling or pain in the testicles
- Rectal pain, discharge or bleeding
LET’S TALK PREVENTION – PLEASE!
You can prevent getting chlamydia by not having vaginal, anal, or oral sex. If you are looking for abstinence that is – if not – use condoms! You may skip the condom if you are in a long-term relationship and both of you have been negatively tested. Otherwise buckle up – read my post Quick Guide To Choosing A Condom! – and get one.
HOW ABOUT A CURE?
Yes, despite chlamydia being awfully deceptive, it can be cured! It can be easily treated with antibiotics. Let me warn you! Serious complications do follow if chlamydia does not get treated.
Chlamydia is so deceptive, the initial damage it causes often goes unnoticed. Chlamydia can lead to the following:
- In women, untreated chlamydia can spread to uterus and fallopian tubes, causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
- PID can cause permanent damage to reproductive system
- PID can lead to long-term pelvic pain, inability to get pregnant, and potentially deadly ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the uterus)
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Make regular doctor visits. Practice safe sex. Get tested. Above all – love your body, take care of your body, and whenever you can, protect your body!
Chlamydia – CDC Fact Sheet (Detailed.) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/std/chlamydia/stdfact-chlamydia-detailed.htm
Chlamydia – CDC Fact Sheet. Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/std/chlamydia/stdfact-chlamydia.htm