Chlamydia - The Most Common Sexually Transmitted Disease
Sexually transmitted diseases, often called STDs, are illnesses that are acquired through sexual contact. Chlamydia is one of the most frequently reported sexually transmitted diseases in the United States, accounting for over one million cases in the year 2010. Chlamydia can cause serious reproductive problems in women and should be treated as early as possible.
Chlamydia is caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. The bacterium is transmitted through vaginal, oral or anal sex. The greater number of sexual partners a person has, the greater the risk of acquiring a chlamydia infection. Both heterosexual and homosexual sex can transmit chlamydia bacteria. Chlamydia pictures indicate a yellow, off-white or milky white discharge with inflamed tissue on the cervix, but these can occur with other sexually transmitted diseases.
People may be infected with the chlamydia bacterium without having any symptoms at all. Symptoms generally occur 1 to 3 weeks after exposure. In women, there may be pain on urination or vaginal discharge. If the infection spreads, there may be pain in the lower abdomen, fever, pain during intercourse and bleeding between periods. In men, signs of infection include burning or itching around the penile opening and pain or swelling of the testicles. Rectal pain can occur in those who engage in anal sex. Chlamydia infection can occur in the throats of those patients who have engaged in oral sex with an infected person. A chlamydia test can determine if you are infected with the bacterium.
Complications of Chlamydia
Untreated chlamydia infection can cause permanent damage to the uterus, fallopian tubes or other tissues. It can cause infertility, chronic pelvic pain, potentially fatal ectopic pregnancies and give women an increased risk of being infected with HIV. In men, chlamydia infection can cause pain, fever and possible sterility. In pregnant women, untreated chlamydia can lead to premature delivery of the infant. Chlamydia can also cause pink eye and early pneumonia in the newborn infants of infected women.
Fortunately, chlamydia can be easily treated with antibiotics such as azithromycin or doxycycline. The person should abstain from sexual contact for 7 days after treatment. Reinfection can occur if partners are not treated also. Individual who show any chlamydia signs should consult their physician immediately.
Abstaining from sex altogether is only sure way to avoid getting chlamydia. Latex condoms used by the male partner can help to reduce the risk of chlamydia infection. Yearly testing can help to reduce the incidence of chlamydia infections in the population.