Deterrence And Patient Education
Asymptomatic infection with Chlamydia trachomatis is very common, whereas the consequences of undiagnosed or untreated infection can be far-reaching. It is for these reasons that screening is recommended. All pregnant women are recommended to be screened for C. trachomatis. All sexually active females younger than 25 should be screened annually. Women older than 25 should be screened if they have risk factors for sexually transmitted infections. Risk factors include sexual partners with multiple concurrent partners, new or multiple sexual partners, inconsistent use of condoms if the relationship is not monogamous, exchanging sex for money or drugs, or previous/coexisting STI. Men who have sex with men should also be screened for chlamydial infection. In individuals with HIV, screening should be done at the initial presentation and annually. For individuals entering a correctional facility, it is recommended to screen for chlamydia in women 35 years old or younger and men thirty years old or younger.
In the United States, C. trachomatis is considered a notifiable infection. Local and state laws regarding disease reporting apply. Sexual partners should be notified, examined, and treated if an STI is found in the index patient. Expedited partner therapy may also be available in certain settings. Expedited partner therapy allows providers to prescribe antibiotics to sexual contacts without establishing a physician-patient relationship.
Tips For Safe Kissing
Follow these tips to practice safe kissing and prevent transmission of other conditions:
- Avoid kissing someone if either of you has open sores.
- Avoid kissing someone if either of you has cuts in or around the mouth.
- Avoid kissing someone when youre sick or if theyre sick.
- Dont bite during kissing.
- Find other parts of the body to kiss instead of the lips, such as the cheek or hand.
Kissing doesnt have to be off-limits to prevent the transmission of disease. If you temporarily avoid kissing or change the way you kiss during a bout of illness, you could lower your chances for getting the condition.
What Can Happen If Chlamydia Isnt Treated
Untreated chlamydia can put your health at risk. Make an appointment with your provider immediately if you notice any symptoms of chlamydia, and get regular STI screenings to avoid complications later.
Complications of chlamydia for people with vaginas
Untreated chlamydia can cause:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease . PID is a serious condition that requires hospitalization. It can occur when an untreated STI, like chlamydia, damages your reproductive organs. PID can lead to infertility and chronic pelvic pain. It can also cause an ectopic pregnancy, which is life-threatening for the fetus and potentially deadly for the mother or gestational parent, too.
- Pregnancy complications. An untreated infection can lead to pre-term delivery. Also, if youre pregnant and have chlamydia, you can pass the infection on to your newborn. Babies born with chlamydia may have pneumonia or conjunctivitis that could lead to blindness if not treated.
Complications of chlamydia for people with penises
Untreated chlamydia can cause:
- Epididymitis. Infection can spread to the testicles and the tube that carries sperm to your testicles , causing symptoms like pain, swelling and tenderness in your testicles.
- Reduced fertility. Chlamydia can harm your sperm, negatively impacting your ability to conceive.
Complications of chlamydia that can affect all genders
Untreated chlamydia can:
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How Does Chlamydia Spread
Chlamydia is spread when a person has unprotected sex with an infected person.
Because chlamydial infection often has no symptoms, many people do not realise they have the infection.
Even if you know a person well, you may not be able to tell they have an STI, because people can look healthy and still have chlamydia.
Remember, you can get chlamydia and other STIs from a new sexual partner who has in the past had sex with someone who is infected.
It can also be spread from a long-term partner who has had sex with other people.
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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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
What Is The Treatment For Chlamydia
Antibiotics can easily cure chlamydia. Treatment options are the same, whether a person also has HIV or not.
Patients treated with single-dose antibiotics should not have sex for seven days. Patients treated with a seven-day course of antibiotics should not have sex until they complete treatment, and their symptoms are gone. This helps prevent spreading the infection to sex partners. It is important to take all medicine prescribed to cure chlamydia. Medicine should not be shared with anyone. Although treatment will cure the infection, it will not repair any long-term damage done by the disease. If a persons symptoms continue for more than a few days after receiving treatment, a healthcare provider should reevaluate them.
Repeat infection with chlamydia is common.49 Women whose sex partners do not receive appropriate treatment are at high risk for re-infection. Having multiple chlamydial infections increases a womans risk of serious reproductive health problems .50,51A healthcare provider should retest those with chlamydia about three months after treatment of an initial infection. Retesting is necessary even if their partners receive successful treatment.40
Infants with chlamydia may develop conjunctivitis and/or pneumonia.10 Healthcare providers can treat infection in infants with antibiotics.
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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.
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.
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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.
Are There Complications Of Chlamydia
Chlamydia can cause serious complications if it isnt treated promptly and properly.
For women, chlamydia can spread into the uterus and the fallopian tubes and cause pelvic inflammatory disease . This can cause problems with pregnancy, such as ectopic pregnancy. Women with untreated chlamydia have up to a 1 in 12 chance of becoming infertile. In men, chlamydia can spread to the testicles and the tubes that carry sperm, causing pain and fertility problems.
Pregnant women who are infected with chlamydia have a higher chance of miscarriage or premature birth. Their babies may also get an eye or lung infection. You can read more about chlamydia and pregnancy here.
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How Is Chlamydia Transmitted
Newborn babies can acquire chlamydia from their mother during birth. Most prenatal testing includes a chlamydia test, but it doesnt hurt to double-check with an OB-GYN during the first prenatal checkup.
A chlamydia infection in the eye can occur through oral or genital contact with the eyes, but this isnt common.
- bleeding from this area
Having oral sex with someone who has the infection raises the risk of getting chlamydia in the throat. Symptoms can include a sore throat, cough, or fever. Its also possible to carry bacteria in the throat and not know it.
Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes
In the United States and other developed countries, the prevention of sexually transmitted genital infections and complications mainly focuses on screening and treating nonpregnant sexually active women aged 25 years or younger on an annual basis. Screening for pregnant women is recommended, and screening and treatment of women over 25 years of age are recommendations if there are identifiable risk factors, such as new or multiple sexual partners. Screening of young men in high-risk settings should be a consideration if resources allow. Urine or endocervical NAAT are the recommended screening tests. The partner should be screened and treated at the same time.
Healthcare workers and nurse practitioners should educate patients on the importance of using a condom during sex, practicing safe sex or abstaining from sexual activity to prevent chlamydia.
Pharmacists should verify dosing and agent selection for antimicrobial therapy, check for drug interactions, and report any concerns to the prescriber.
The prognosis is excellent with prompt initiation of treatment early, and with the completion of the entire course of antibiotics, antibiotic treatment is 95% effective for first-time therapy.
No vaccine is currently available for either trachoma or chlamydial genital infections.
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How Does Chlamydia Affect A Pregnant Person And Their Baby
In newborns, untreated chlamydia can cause:
- ophthalmia neonatorum ,
Prospective studies show that chlamydial conjunctivitis and pneumonia occur in 18-44% and 3-16%, respectively, of infants born to those with chlamydia. 9-12 Neonatal prophylaxis against gonococcal conjunctivitis routinely performed at birth does not effectively prevent chlamydial conjunctivitis.37-39
- All pregnant people under age 25 and
- All pregnant people 25 years and older at increased risk for chlamydia .
Retest those with infection four weeks and three months after they complete treatment.40
What Other Problems Can Chlamydia Cause
In women, an untreated infection can spread to your uterus and fallopian tubes, causing pelvic inflammatory disease . PID can cause permanent damage to your reproductive system. This can lead to long-term pelvic pain, infertility, and ectopic pregnancy. Women who have had chlamydia infections more than once are at higher risk of serious reproductive health complications.
Men often don’t have health problems from chlamydia. Sometimes it can infect the epididymis . This can cause pain, fever, and, rarely, infertility.
Both men and women can develop reactive arthritis because of a chlamydia infection. Reactive arthritis is a type of arthritis that happens as a “reaction” to an infection in the body.
Babies born to infected mothers can get eye infections and pneumonia from chlamydia. It may also make it more likely for your baby to be born too early.
Untreated chlamydia may also increase your chances of getting or giving HIV/AIDS.
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How Do I Know If I Have Chlamydia
Chlamydia often has no symptoms, but it can cause serious health problems, even without symptoms. If symptoms occur, they may not appear until several weeks after having sex with a partner who has chlamydia.
Even when chlamydia has no symptoms, it can damage a womans reproductive system. Women with symptoms may notice
- An abnormal vaginal discharge and
- A burning sensation when peeing.
Symptoms in men can include
- A burning sensation when peeing and
- Pain and swelling in one or both testicles .
See a healthcare provider if you notice any of these symptoms. You should also see a provider if your partner has an STD or symptoms of one. Symptoms can include
- An unusual sore
How Is Chlamydia Treated
Chlamydia can be cleared up with antibiotics in about a week or two. But dont stop taking your medication just because your symptoms improve. Ask your provider about what follow-up is needed to be sure your infection is gone after youve finished taking your medicine.
Part of your treatment should also include avoiding sexual activities that could cause you to get re-infected and ensuring that any sexual partners who may be infected also get treatment. You should:
- Abstain from sex until your infection has cleared up. Starting treatment doesnt mean that youre in the clear. Take all your medication as your provider directs, and avoid all sexual contact in the meantime.
- Contact all sexual partners. Tell any sexual partners from the last 3 months that youre infected so that they can get tested, too.
- Get tested for other STIs . Its common to have multiple STIs, and its important to receive treatment thats tailored to each infection.
Antibiotics can get rid of your infection, but they cant reverse any harm the bacteria may have caused to your body before treatment. This is why its so important to get screened regularly for chlamydia, to see your provider at the first sign of symptoms, and get treatment immediately if youre infected.
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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.
Clinical Features And Sequelae
- Genital infections with C. trachomatis present as urethritis and proctitis in men and women, cervicitis, salpingitis, endometritis and pelvic inflammatory disease in women, and orchitis, epididymitis and prostatitis in men.
- Perinatal transmission of C. trachomatis can result in conjunctivitis and pneumonia in newborns and young infants.
- At least 70% of genital C. trachomatis infections in women and 50% in men are asymptomatic at the time of diagnosis.
- The natural course of genital chlamydia infections is not well understood:
- Spontaneous resolution of asymptomatic infections is not uncommon.
- Asymptomatic infections, particularly endocervical infections, can persist for long periods.
- Many patients with asymptomatic infections will at some point develop symptoms and clinical disease.
- Asymptomatic infections can result in complications such as blocked tubes and pelvic inflammatory disease.
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.
Is Chlamydia Serious
Although chlamydia does not usually cause any symptoms and can normally be treated with a short course of antibiotics, it can be serious if it’s not treated early on.
If left untreated, the infection can spread to other parts of your body and lead to long-term health problems, especially in women.
In women, untreated chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease , ectopic pregnancy and infertility.
In men, in rare cases, chlamydia can spread to the testicles and epididymis , causing them to become painful and swollen. This is known as epididymitis or epididymo-orchitis .
It can also sometimes cause reactive arthritis in men and women.
This is why it’s important to get tested and treated as soon as possible if you think you might have chlamydia.
Testing for chlamydia is done with a urine test or a swab test.
You do not always need a physical examination by a nurse or doctor.
Anyone can get a free and confidential chlamydia test at a sexual health clinic, a genitourinary medicine clinic or a GP surgery.
In England, if you’re a woman under 25 years old, you may be offered a chlamydia test when you visit some health services, for example a pharmacy or GP. This offer is part of the National Chlamydia Screening Programme .
If you’re offered a chlamydia test you should consider taking it.
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.
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