How Does Chlamydia Affect A Pregnant Woman And Her Baby
In pregnant women, untreated chlamydia has been associated with pre-term delivery, and can spread to the newborn, causing an eye infection or pneumonia. Screening and treatment of chlamydia during pregnancy is the best way to prevent these complications. All pregnant women should be screened for chlamydia at their first prenatal visit.
How is chlamydia diagnosed?
How is chlamydia treated?
Penicillin is not effective against chlamydia.
Chlamydia can be easily treated and cured with antibiotics. HIV-positive persons with chlamydia should receive the same treatment as those who are HIV-negative.
Persons with chlamydia should abstain from having sex for seven days after single dose antibiotics, or until completion of a seven-day course of antibiotics, to prevent spreading the infection to partners.
Repeat infection with chlamydia is common. Persons whose sex partners have not been appropriately treated are at high risk for re-infection. Having multiple chlamydial infections increases a woman’s risk of serious reproductive health complications, including pelvic inflammatory disease and ectopic pregnancy. Women and men with chlamydia should be retested about three months after treatment of an initial infection, regardless of whether they believe that their sex partners were successfully treated.
Infants infected with chlamydia may develop conjunctivitis and/or pneumonia. Chlamydial infection in infants can be treated with antibiotics.
What Health Problems Can Result From Chlamydia
The initial damage that chlamydia causes is often unnoticed. However, infections can lead to serious health problems with both short- and long-term effects.
If a woman does not receive treatment, chlamydia can spread into the uterus or fallopian tubes, causing PID. Symptomatic PID occurs in about 10-15% of women who do not receive treatment.30,31 However, chlamydia can also cause subclinical inflammation of the upper genital tract . Both acute and subclinical PID can cause long-term damage to the fallopian tubes, uterus, and surrounding tissues. The damage can lead to chronic pelvic pain, tubal factor infertility, and potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy.32,33
Some patients with PID develop perihepatitis, or Fitz-Hugh-Curtis Syndrome. This syndrome includes inflammation of the liver capsule and surrounding peritoneum, which can cause right upper quadrant pain.
In pregnant people, untreated chlamydia can lead to pre-term delivery,34 ophthalmia neonatorum , and pneumonia in the newborn.
Reactive arthritis can occur in men and women, following infection with or without symptoms. This is sometimes part of a triad of symptoms formerly referred to as Reiters Syndrome.35
What Can Happen If Chlamydia Is Not Treated
Untreated chlamydia can cause serious health problems in women, including:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease , an infection of a woman’s reproductive organs. PID can lead to chronic pelvic pain, pregnancy problems, and infertility . Untreated chlamydia is a common cause of PID. It affects about 10% to 15% of women with untreated chlamydia.4
- Increased risk of getting HIV from sexual activity
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How Is Chlamydia Diagnosed
Diagnose chlamydia with nucleic acid amplification tests , cell culture, and other types of tests. NAATs are the most sensitive tests to use on easy-to-obtain specimens. This includes vaginal swabs or urine.43
To diagnose genital chlamydia in women using a NAAT, vaginal swabs are the optimal specimen. Urine is the specimen of choice for men. Urine is an effective alternative specimen type for women.43 Self-collected vaginal swab specimens perform as well as other approved specimens using NAATs.44 Patients may prefer self-collected vaginal swabs or urine-based screening to more invasive specimen collection.45 Adolescent girls may be good candidates for self-collected vaginal swab- or urine-based screening.
Diagnose rectal or pharyngeal infection by testing at the anatomic exposure site. While useful for these specimens, culture is not widely available. Additionally, NAATs have better sensitivity and specificity compared with culture for detecting C. trachomatis at non-genital sites.46-48 Most tests, including NAATs, are not FDA-cleared for use with rectal or pharyngeal swab specimens. NAATs have better sensitivity and specificity compared with culture for the detection of C. trachomatis at rectal sites.46-48 However, some laboratories have met set requirements and have validated NAAT testing on rectal and pharyngeal swab specimens.
When To Seek Care
Chlamydia is often asymptomaticâmeaning symptoms might not appear at all . So, how do you know when to get tested? It is recommended that while you are sexually active that you get tested at least annually, although, if you have sexual contact with someone whose STI status you donât know, you should be tested more often. If you are at a higher risk of contracting chlamydia , you should be tested more frequentlyâperhaps every three months or six months.
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When Can I Have Sex Again
If you were diagnosed with chlamydia, wait to have sex again until you have finished your treatment.
For some antibiotics, such as doxycycline, this means may need to wait 1 week to have sex, or until you have completed your prescribed course of treatment.
If you were prescribed a single dose of medication, like azithromycin, wait 7 days after taking the medication before having sex.
What Does Chlamydia Feel Like For Females
The CDC states that up to 95 percent of females who contract chlamydia will experience no symptoms. This lack of symptoms makes it difficult to diagnose the infection and even harder to prevent its spread.
As a result, chlamydia infection is often called a silent epidemic. However, if not treated, chlamydia can cause serious health problems, including pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility.
Therefore, sexually active women need to get tested for chlamydia regularly. With early detection and treatment, you can bring the silent epidemic of chlamydia under control.
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How Long Can You Have Chlamydia Without Knowing
If youve had intercourse with an infected man or woman, chlamydia symptoms may appear between 1 3 weeks after contact.
However, you may still be asymptomatic after a chlamydia infection. This is because chlamydia can be silent or dormant for months and years without showing symptoms.
In men, about 50 70 percent will show symptoms of chlamydia while only 30 50 percent of women will be symptomatic. Absent symptoms of chlamydia do not mean absent infection. You should take chlamydia test to confirm if you have the infection or not.
In Both Males And Females
Complications that may be seen in anyone include:
- Other STIs. Chlamydia and gonorrhea both make you more susceptible to other STIs, including human immunodeficiency virus . Having chlamydia can also increase your risk of developing gonorrhea, and vice versa.
- Reactive arthritis . Also called Reiters syndrome, this condition results from an infection in your urinary tract or intestines. Symptoms of this condition cause pain, swelling, or tightness in your joints and eyes, and a variety of other symptoms.
- Infertility. Damage to reproductive organs or to sperm can make it more challenging or, in some cases, impossible to become pregnant or to impregnate your partner.
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What Are The Signs Of Chlamydia
According to Hilary Reno, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor of medicine at Washington University in St. Louis, chlamydia symptoms usually start a week after you contract the infection, but really there is no set timeline. Adding to the confusion, when you do get chlamydia symptoms, they can often be mild or reminiscent of other common ailments like a urinary tract infection or a yeast infection, or even another sneaky STI, gonorrhea.
You know your body best, so if you feel like something isnt quite right, its best to see a doctor. If something has changed, and you know what your sexual activity has been, and you are having symptoms, that is an alert that you better get checked, James Grifo, M.D, Ph.D., program director at NYU Langone Fertility Center and chief executive physician at Inception Fertility, tells SELF. In the meantime, here are some prominent chlamydia symptoms to be on the lookout for:
Now, changes outside of what is normal for your bodyvaginal discharge color, smell, and feelcould signal a larger issue. And there are a lot of things that can account for this outside of chlamydia, according to the Cleveland Clinic, including a yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis. If your discharge is smelly or white, yellow, or gray in color, though, that may be chlamydia.
Who Is At Risk For Chlamydia
Any sexually active person can be infected with chlamydia. Anyone with genital symptoms such as discharge, burning during urination, unusual sores, or rash should refrain from having sex until they are able to see a health care provider about their symptoms.
Because chlamydia is usually asymptomatic, screening is necessary to identify most infections. Screening programs have been demonstrated to reduce rates of adverse sequelae in women. CDC recommends yearly chlamydia screening of all sexually active women age 25 or younger and older women with risk factors for chlamydial infections . Pregnant women should be screened during their first prenatal care visit. Pregnant women younger than 25 or at increased risk for chlamydia should be screened again in their third trimester. Any woman who is sexually active should discuss her risk factors with a health care provider who can then determine if more frequent screening is necessary.
Routine screening is not recommended for men. However, the screening of sexually active young men should be considered in clinical settings with a high prevalence of chlamydia when resources permit and do not hinder screening efforts in women.
What are the symptoms?
Chlamydia is known as a âsilentâ infection because most infected people have no symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they may not appear until several weeks after exposure. Even when it causes no symptoms, chlamydia can damage a womanâs reproductive organs.
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Tips For Preventing Stds
Some scientists call STIs the hidden epidemic. Theyâre common. Theyâre invisible. Finally, they can have serious long-term health consequencesincluding infertility and even death. Why is it important to be aware of how common it is for people to have an asymptomatic STI?
STIs arenât transmitted every time people have sex. However, they can get around pretty quickly.
If one person with an STI has condomless sex with a new partner each year, and each of them has condomless sex with one new partner a year, and these partners each did the same, in 10 years, the first person could have transmitted an STI to over 1,000 people.
If each person has sex with two new partners a year, that number goes up to more than 59,000.
Treatment Of Chlamydia Is There A Cure For Chlamydia
Chlamydia can be cured easily and effectively with simple antibiotics once it has been diagnosed. The treatment can consist of a single dose or last up to 2 weeks depending on the type of chlamydia. The infected person should not have penetrative sex until receiving a negative Chlamydia test at an after-treatment check-up. Both partners must be treated for chlamydia and undergo re-testing after 34 months.
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When Should You See A Doctor About Chlamydia Symptoms
There are a few reasons its a good idea to see your doctor for STI screening. Dr. Soper says if you have had a high-risk exposure, had unprotected sex with multiple partners, or had sex with someone who has had multiple partners, its best to rule out any infections. Seek out screening even before symptoms occur since so much of chlamydia infection is asymptomatic, he says.
If it turns out you do have chlamydia, know that it is easily treatable with either a single dose or a seven-day course of antibiotics, according to the CDC. Unlike, say, herpes, which is a virus and can live in your nerve roots and reappear, chlamydia doesnt do that, but it can be present for a long period of time, Dr. Soper says. If you treat it effectively, it doesnt come back unless you get exposed again. And dont forget to inform your partner if youve been infected. After all, wouldnt you want your partner to let you know? Its the responsible thing to do.
Its also a good idea to get retested in three months, Dr. Reno says, as you are at an increased risk of another STI. But not for the reasons you might think. Chlamydia doesnt actually make you more prone to getting another STI, Dr. Grifo says, but rather the person or people youre having sex with could have multiple exposures to STIs that then put you at risk, including someone you may think is monogamous.
What Are The Risk Factors Of Stis
It goes without saying that you want to try to avoid getting an STI, and thats for a number of reasons. Short-term risks of catching an STI could include an impact on your sex life, confidence, stress levels, and occasionally some discomfort in the area of infection.
Longer-term risks can be more complicated and can depend on the STI you have. In some cases, some infections can lead to infertility, while others like HPV may increase the risk of cancer. In cases of syphilis and HIV that are left untreated, even death is possible. This all sounds very scary, but theres a reason were sharing it: to underline the importance of protecting yourself against sexually transmitted infections. If you can avoid getting one, you should! More on that below.
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What Kinds Of Complications Can The Infection Cause
The initial damage that chlamydia causes often goes unnoticed. However, chlamydial infections can lead to serious health problems.
In women, untreated infection can spread upward to the uterus and fallopian tubes , causing pelvic inflammatory disease . PID can be silent, or can cause symptoms such as abdominal and pelvic pain. Both symptomatic and silent PID can cause permanent damage to a womans reproductive tract and lead to long-term pelvic pain, inability to get pregnant and potentially deadly ectopic pregnancy .
Complications are rare in men. Infection sometimes spreads to the tube that carries sperm from the testis, causing pain, fever, but, rarely, preventing a man from being able to father children.
How To Avoid Reinfection
Chlamydia reinfections are common. Having more than one chlamydia infection increases a persons risk of reproductive health issues.
To avoid reinfection, an individual should avoid all sexual activity until they finish treatment. After treatment has ended, they should make sure to wear condoms correctly every time they have sex. This can help prevent chlamydia and other STIs.
To reduce the chance of reinfection, a person should ask all sexual partners to get tested for chlamydia before they resume any sexual activity.
People at the lowest risk of chlamydia are those in monogamous relationships with a partner who tested negative for chlamydia.
This section answers some frequently asked questions about untreated chlamydia.
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Causes And Risk Factors
Chlamydia is an STI caused by a specific strain of bacteria known as Chlamydia trachomatis.
Chlamydia is more common in women than in men. In fact, its estimated that the overall rate of infection is for women than men in the United States.
Some of the other risk factors for infection include:
- not using barrier methods like condoms consistently with new sexual partners
- having a sexual partner who is having sex with other people
- having a history of chlamydia or other STIs
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Im Pregnant How Does Chlamydia Affect My Baby
If you are pregnant and have chlamydia, you can give the infection to your baby during delivery. This can cause an eye infection or pneumonia in your baby. Having chlamydia may also make it more likely to deliver your baby early.
If you are pregnant, you should receive testing for chlamydia at your first prenatal visit. Talk to your healthcare provider about getting the correct examination, testing, and treatment. Testing and treatment are the best ways to prevent health problems.
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How To Help Partners Get Treatment
If you are not sure whether your sexual partner will seek treatment, ask your doctor for extra chlamydia medication . You can give it to them so they can be treated as soon as possible.
This is known as patient delivered partner therapy for chlamydia. Talk to your doctor to see if PDPT is right for you and your sexual partner.
What Should I Do If I Have Chlamydia
Chlamydia is easy to treat. But you need to be tested and treated as soon as possible.
If you have chlamydia:
- See a doctor or nurse as soon as possible. Antibiotics will treat chlamydia, but they will not fix any permanent damage to your reproductive organs.
- Take all of your medicine. Even if symptoms go away, you need to finish all of the antibiotics.
- Tell your sex partner so they can be tested and treated. If they are not tested and treated you could get chlamydia again.
- Avoid sexual contact until you and your partner have been treated and cured. Even after you finish your antibiotics, you can get chlamydia again if you have sex with someone who has chlamydia.
- See your doctor or nurse again if you have symptoms that don’t go away within a few days after finishing the antibiotics.
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