What Happens If Chlamydia Is Not Treated
Untreated chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease in women. Women with PID may not realize they have it, but left untreated it can cause pain, infertility or ectopic pregnancy.
Pregnant women with untreated chlamydia can pass it to their babies during childbirth. It can cause eye infections and pneumonia in newborns, and also increase the risk of delivering your baby too early.
In men, chlamydia can spread to the epididymis , and can cause chronic joint pain and infertility for some.
Young Sexually Active Women Are Most Susceptible
Women between ages 15 and 24 are most likely to be newly infected with chlamydia, according to the CDC, but anyone who is sexually active male or female can be infected. Men who have oral or anal sex with men are also at risk, notes the CDC. The CDC recommends regular chlamydia screenings for people at an increased risk of contracting it.
You should be screened annually for chlamydia if you are:
- A sexually active woman under age 25
- A woman age 25 or older who has multiple sexual partners
- A woman whose sexual partner may have multiple sexual partners
- Pregnant and under age 25 or pregnant and age 25 or older with an increased risk
- A man who has sex with men
- At an increased risk for other health reasons
I would emphasize that young women should be screened if they engage in any sexual behavior that puts them at risk because often has no symptoms, and early treatment is important to avoid long-term damage and infertility, Dr. Schaffir says.
Screening for chlamydia is painless: It usually involves testing a urine sample or a specimen swabbed from the vagina or penis. Some lab tests for chlamydia can use specimens from the throat or rectum.
Female Difficulties Of Untreated Chlamydia
Some ladies develop PID, an infection that can harm the uterus, cervix, as well as ovaries. PID is an excruciating illness that frequently calls for medical facility treatment.
Women can also come to be sterile if chlamydia is left unattended because the fallopian tubes may come to be scarred.
Expectant women with the infection can pass the bacteria to their babies throughout birth, which can create eye infections and pneumonia in infants. How Early Do Chlamydia Symptoms Show
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Im Pregnant How Does Chlamydia Affect My Baby
If you are pregnant and have chlamydia, you can pass the infection to your baby during delivery. This could cause an eye infection or pneumonia in your newborn. Having chlamydia may also make it more likely to deliver your baby too early.
If you are pregnant, you should get tested for chlamydia at your first prenatal visit. Testing and treatment are the best ways to prevent health problems.
Symptoms Can Differ For Men And Women
By and large, most cases of chlamydia are asymptomatic they are picked up by screening, which is why it’s so important to have good screening programs in place, notes Dr. Stoner. Men or women who have chlamydia symptoms may experience painful urination.
Women may also have these symptoms:
- Smelly discharge from the cervix
- Pain during sex
And men may have these symptoms:
- Discharge from the penis
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Research And Statistics: How Many People Get Chlamydia
Chlamydia is a very common infection, constituting the largest proportion of all STDs reported to the CDC since 1994.
The American Sexual Health Association , for instance, estimates that as many as three million people have chlamydia each year in the United States.
Certain groups are much more likely to get chlamydia than the general population. For example, the rate of reported chlamydia in 2017 was about 39.9 cases per 1,000 people among women ages 20 to 24, and about 32.7 per 1,000 people among women ages 15 to 19.
Among men age 19 or younger who visited an STD clinic in 2017, nearly 40 percent of those who had sex with women tested positive for chlamydia. This number was nearly 30 percent for men ages 20 to 24 who had sex with women, and only slightly lower for men who had sex with men.
The rate of reported chlamydia varies widely throughout the United States at the county and state level. In 2017, West Virginia, Vermont, and New Hampshire had the lowest reported rates of chlamydia, while the highest rates were found in the District of Columbia, Alaska, Louisiana, and Mississippi. The region with the highest rate of chlamydia was the South, while the Northeast had the lowest rate.
Other Complications Of Untreated Chlamydia In All People
- Conjunctivitis, spread by touching the infected area and then touching the hand to the eye
- Inflammation of the mucous membrane of the rectum , if the chlamydia is from anal sex
- Varied symptoms, such as joint and eye inflammation, caused by bacterial infection
- Lymphogranuloma venereum, or LGV. This is caused by a type of chlamydia that is usually rare in the United States, but it is becoming more common in men who have sex with men. It causes open sores in the genital area, headache, fever, fatigue, and swelling of the lymph nodes in the groin. It also causes proctitis in people who get chlamydia through anal sex.
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How Soon After Unprotected Sex Should I Get Tested
With more than 80 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases occurring every year in the United States, one cannot but be too careful when sexually active. The American Sexual Health Association explains that one in two sexually active American will contract an STD by the time they reach the age of 25 years. While cases are on the rise, exponentially, surveys show that only 12% of young sexually active American were tested last year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention adds that undiagnosed sexually transmitted infections are causing infertility in 24,000 women yearly. Undiagnosed STDs that remain untreated lead to numerous health complications, with some being life threatening. It is essential to get STD testing as part of a routine checkup. There are also at home STD testing kits to make testing even more available and convenient.
When engaging in a risky sexual behavior, one may have the tendency to get tested immediately. But this is a common mistake that many sexually active individuals make. Why, you may ask? It is all because of what is called the incubation period that differs from an infection to another.
When To Seek Medical Advice
If you have any symptoms of chlamydia, visit your GP, community contraceptive service or local genitourinary medicine clinic as soon as possible.
You should also get tested if you don’t have any symptoms but are concerned you could have a sexually transmitted infection .
If you’re a woman, sexually active and under 25 in England, it’s recommended that you have a chlamydia test once a year, and when you have sex with new or casual partners.
If you’re a man, sexually active and under 25 in England, it’s recommended that you have a chlamydia test once a year if you are not using condoms with new or casual partners.
Read more about chlamydia diagnosis.
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Chlamydia Is Common But Many People Dont Realize They Have It
About 1.7 million chlamydia infections were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2017, but the real number is likely higher because chlamydia is considered an underreported infection.
“The number of reported cases is substantially lower than the true estimated incidence,” says Bradley Stoner, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and former president of the American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association.
The National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System relies on state and local public health departments to collect and report data on chlamydia to the CDC. Those public health departments depend on individual physicians, hospitals, and laboratories to report cases of chlamydia to them. Accurate statistics require all parties to routinely comply with disease-reporting mandates.
You Can Get Chlamydia More Than Once
With some diseases, having one infection makes you immune to future infections. That’s not the case with chlamydia. If you engage in sexual activity with a person who has a chlamydia infection, you can get it again, even if you’ve just completed treatment for it.
“Both partners should be treated before reinitiating sexual intercourse to prevent relapse,” Schaffir says.
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How Often Should I Get Checked For Chlamydia
Sexual health check-ups are recommended for anyone who is sexually active. Frequency of testing also depends on your STI risk:
- An annual sexual health check-up is highly recommended if you are sexually active especially if you are under 25.
- Get checked more often during the year if you frequently change sexual partners.
- Remember, you are at greater risk if you have sex without a condom with 1 or multiple sexual partners.
Does Azithromycin Cure Chlamydia
Cure rates of 97% were reported in an analysis of 12 randomized clinical trials that investigated the use of azithromycin 1 gram for the treatment of chlamydia. That means for every 100 people with chlamydia who take azithromycin, 97 will be cured and 3 will not be cured.
This relies on the person with chlamydia taking azithromycin exactly as directed and not sharing the medication with anyone. Any sexual partners must be also treated.
Although azithromycin cures chlamydia in most people, it will not repair any permanent damage done to tissues by the disease.
If you have been symptomatic with chlamydia before treatment and your symptoms continue for more than a few days after receiving treatment, then ask to be re-evaluated by your health care provider.
Unfortunately, repeat infection with chlamydia is common. This means that even though azithromycin has cured your current infection with chlamydia, this does not mean you will not get chlamydia again. If your sexual partners have not been appropriately treated, you are at high-risk for reinfection. Having chlamydia multiple times puts women at high risk of fertility problems, ectopic pregnancy, and pelvic inflammatory disease. Infants born to mothers who are infected with chlamydia may develop chlamydial conjunctivitis and/or pneumonia. Chlamydial infection in infants can be treated with antibiotics.
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What Are Chlamydia Symptoms And Signs
The signs and symptoms of chlamydia infections in women are usually irritation in the genital tract, vaginal discharge, and pain with urination . In men, chlamydia is characterized by pain with urination, urinary frequency, and urethral discharge . Other symptoms may develop, such as rectal irritation , eye infections, and infertility. Women can also develop chronicpelvic pain, salpingitis, and endometritis. Pregnant women infected with chlamydia can have ectopicpregnancies, preterm labor, preterm delivery, and their newborns can get conjunctivitis, otitis media, and pneumonia.
Youre Not Immune To Chlamydia Once Youve Had It
Once youve had some diseases, you cant catch them again. Unfortunately, this isnt true for chlamydia. Repeat chlamydia infections are common.
If youve had chlamydia in the past, you have no immunity against the infection. If youre sexually active with somebody who has the infection, you could catch it again. Since reinfection is common, you should get tested for chlamydia about three months after being treated for the infection.
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When Should Someone Seek Medical Care For Chlamydia
The most urgent time to seek medical care for a chlamydial infection is when an individual is pregnant and has had recent sexual exposure to an infected individual and/or has developed early symptoms of a chlamydial infection. Additionally, if individuals are experiencing any symptoms of chlamydial infections, they should seek medical care quickly. Sexual partners should be notified if they have had recent contact with an infected individual.
Patients with gonorrhea have a 30%-50% chance of being coinfected with chlamydia. However, the reverse is not true. Patients with chlamydial infections have a less than 1% chance of being coinfected with Neisseria gonorrhoeae.
Can Chlamydia Be Cured
Yes, chlamydia can be cured with the right treatment. It is important that you take all of the medication your doctor prescribes to cure your infection. When taken properly it will stop the infection and could decrease your chances of having complications later on. You should not share medication for chlamydia with anyone.
Repeat infection with chlamydia is common. You should be tested again about three months after you are treated, even if your sex partner was treated.
Home Remedies For Chlamydia Symptoms
You may still experience painful or uncomfortable symptoms while youre taking chlamydia antibiotics.
Here are some home remedies for reducing your pain and other symptoms while youre waiting for the antibiotics to work:
- pain medications, such as ibuprofen to reduce pain
- cold pack to help limit swelling and inflammation
- goldenseal to reduce inflammation and potentially make symptoms less severe
- echinacea to bolster your immune system against the infection and reduce your symptoms
- turmeric containing an ingredient called curcumin to reduce inflammation and make symptoms less severe
No studies support the effectiveness of these supplements specifically for chlamydia, so take them with caution.
And theres no substitute for antibiotics when treating chlamydia. Only try these remedies if youre already taking antibiotics or if you plan to go to the doctor.
What Causes Chlamydia
Chlamydia infections spread through sexual contact, when vaginal fluid or semen containing the bacteria that causes chlamydia travels from one person to another. Sexual contact includes all kinds of sex, including sex that doesnt involve penetration or ejaculation. There are lots of ways that the fluids from one persons genitals can transmit the bacteria that causes chlamydia.
- Intercourse. Bacteria pass from one persons penis to their partners vagina or vice versa.
- Anal sex. Bacteria passes from one persons penis to their partners anus or vice versa.
- Oral sex. Bacteria passes from one persons mouth to their partners penis, vagina, or anus, or vice versa.
- Sex involving toys. Bacteria pass from a toy with the bacteria to a persons mouth, penis, vagina or anus.
- Manual stimulation of the genitals or anus. Less commonly, infected vaginal fluid or semen can come in contact with a persons eye, causing an infection called conjunctivitis. For example, this can happen if you touch the genitals of an infected person and then rub your eyes without washing your hands first.
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When To See A Doctor
If a person has symptoms of chlamydia after testing and treatment or thinks that they have come into contact with chlamydia again, they should see their doctor.
Females are less likely than males to have symptoms of chlamydia, so testing is especially important for them.
The recommend chlamydia testing every year for the following groups of people:
- sexually active females under the age of 25 years
- females over the age of 25 years who have new or multiple sexual partners
- anyone with a sexual partner who has an STI
- sexually active gay and bisexual males
Pregnant women should have a chlamydia test early on in their pregnancy.
How Do You Prevent Chlamydia
Chlamydia can be passed on by sharing sex toys. Always cover sex toys with a new condom and wash them after use to reduce your risk of getting chlamydia and other STIs.
Its important to regularly test for chlamydia, even if you dont have any symptoms, especially if youve had multiple sexual partners.
The contraceptive pill and other types of contraception wont prevent you getting chlamydia, and neither will PrEP.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Chlamydia
The signs of chlamydia are so subtle that women often dont realize they have an infection, says Jill Rabin, MD, the cochief of ambulatory care for women’s health programs and prenatal care assistance services for Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, New York. And, she emphasizes, Usually the disease has no symptoms in women.
When symptoms occur, they tend to develop one to three weeks after exposure to chlamydia.
How Long Can You Have Chlamydia Without Knowing
Chlamydia is sometimes called a silent infection because the majority of people who have chlamydia regardless of gender never notice symptoms. People who do notice symptoms often dont recognize the signs that they have chlamydia until a few weeks after theyve been infected. Because chlamydia cases are often asymptomatic, its easy to spread chlamydia to someone else without realizing it. And its easy to miss out on receiving the treatment needed to prevent the serious complications that can result from chlamydia.
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How Soon Can You Be Tested
Every STD has its own incubation period. For some STDs, the body begins to produce antibodies and symptoms in as little as a few days. For others, it can take weeks or months for symptoms to appear. Here are the ranges of for some of the most common STDs.
|NAAT blood test||2 weeks|
While retesting is recommended for bacterial STDs, some STDs are lifelong viral infections. In the case of a lifelong viral infection, a blood test will always detect the STD, even after treatment has been successful. Therefore, retesting would only be necessary if you wanted to reconfirm an original diagnosis.