Chlamydia trachomatic is the bacterium responsible for the transmission of Chlamydia, one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases amongst young people. Around 5% of sexually active women in the UK have the condition, and it’s often called a silent infection due to the lack of symptoms.
While the symptoms are often non-existent, failure to treat Chlamydia can cause some pretty serious health issues down the line. It can cause damage to a woman’s reproductive organs, eventually leading to infertility, and it can also cause issues with the throat, eyes and lungs.
The disease can spread through most common forms of sexual contact, so it’s important to use protection if you’re sexually active with a new partner. A condom is one of the best ways of avoiding the condition, and you should be tested regularly if you’re sexually active.
Only around a third of women notice any signs of Chlamydia, with the symptoms usually presenting around 3 weeks after infection. Many people don’t experience any symptoms at all. The most common are:
- Vaginal discharge
- A burning sensation during urination
- Pain and/or bleeding during intercourse
- Bleeding between periods
- Pain in the lower abdomen
If you notice any of these symptoms it’s vital that you are tested for potential STDs. Failure to seek treatment can lead to infertility as the infection begins to spread.
When the initial infection occurs it takes affects the cervix. If it’s not treated with antibiotics at this point it can spread to the fallopian tubes and ultimately the ovaries. It’s thought that the infection damages the hairs which line the fallopian tubes, causing scarring and eventually blocking the tubes. If the fallopian tubes are blocked it can often lead to infertility.
It’s not unheard of for those with scarring from Chlamydia to be able to conceive, but there’s an increased risk of an ectopic pregnancy. This is extremely dangerous, both for mother and baby, so early diagnosis of this condition is vital to help avoid any complications. There’s also the possibility of passing the disease to the baby during childbirth, commonly resulting in an eye infection in the newborn.
Chlamydia can also lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, a bacterial infection in the womb or the fallopian tubes. The symptoms of this condition are largely similar to those of Chlamydia, and sufferers may also experience abnormally heavy periods and other unusual bleeding.
The condition is fairly common in the UK, with around 1 in 50 women diagnosed every year. The chanced of it developing are much higher if she has contracted an STD at the time. Symptoms can take a while to appear, but it can happen as soon as a few days after the infection. Antibiotics can be used in most cases, although hospitalisation may be required in some cases.
Testing for Chlamydia is very straightforward and can be done at your local GP, sexual health clinic or even with an at-home test kit. Tests usually involve a swab or a urine sample, which is sent for diagnosis. Your doctor or test kit provider will inform you of the results and will recommend a course of treatment if the test is positive.
Treatment normally takes around 7 days and involves a course of antibiotics, usually Azithromycin or Doxycycline. It’s recommended that sexual contact is avoided for at least a week after treatment has begun, as it can take time for the infection to clear up completely.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of early diagnosis and treatment of Chlamydia. When it’s caught early it’s extremely simple to cure, and the possible health issues caused by ignoring the diagnosis are fairly severe. You can even pick up test kits and antibiotics online from sites like drfelix.co.uk, meaning there’s no need for a GP visit if you’re uncomfortable.
If you’re diagnosed with the condition there’s no need for panic. Arrange for the appropriate medication and contact recent sexual partners to suggest they are tested too. It should be gone within the week and you can get on with things without risk of potential future complications.