Chlamydia: The Silent STD

IMAGE Anna had no symptoms when she went to a clinic to get a prescription for birth control pills. But, a routine test revealed that the 20-year-old had chlamydia. Despite having no symptoms she was still diagnosed with this sexually transmitted disease.

A Common, Yet Curable STD

Chlamydia is a common, yet curable STD that is caused by an infection by a specific bacteria. The infection can be spread during oral, vaginal, or anal sexual contact with an infected partner. It can also be passed from mother to baby during delivery. Chlamydia is diagnosed by testing discharge from the vagina or penis. It can also be diagnosed by testing a urine sample. Once diagnosed, the STD is easily treated with antibiotics.

Routine Screening to Avoid Complications

The STD often remains undiagnosed because a person may not have any symptoms or may only have mild symptoms such as discharge or burning during urination. Screenings are available to diagnose chlamydia in women. All women 25 and younger should get screened for chlamydia every year as well as women over the age of 25 who have new or multiple sex partners. Sexually active young men, especially men who have sex with men, should also be tested annually. If left undiagnosed, chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease and lead to infertility. In pregnant women, it can cause childbirth complications and illness in newborns such as conjunctivitis or pneumonia. Men can also experience complications such as epididymitis, an inflammation of the tube that carries and stores sperm cells. It can also cause urethritis, which affects the tube that carries urine out of the body.

Practicing Safe Sex

Luckily, Anna’s condition was diagnosed early and treated before complications occurred. To prevent a future infection, she was advised to practice safe sex. You can reduce your chance of getting Chlamydia or giving it to your partner by using male latex condoms correctly every time you have sexual intercourse.

RESOURCES

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
http://www.cdc.gov

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
http://www.niaid.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES

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