Behind the STI (STD): Chlamydia
STIs, formerly known as STDs, are sexually transmitted infections. While STIs are difficult to get, thousands upon thousands of people are infected by them each year. Chlamydia is the most common of these infections.
Chlamydia is caused by the obligate intracellular parasite Chlamydia trachomatis. Symptoms are rarely seen in individuals with Chlamydia and those who do experience symptoms may not notice the symptoms for weeks, months, or even years. This sole fact is what makes Chlamydia so common. When there are no symptoms, there is no way for an individual to know whether or not they should go and get treated. The individual then goes on to infect others without even realizing they are doing so.
For men, the infection usually takes place in the urethra. Symptoms for men may include a burning sensation or pain when urinating, discharge from the urethra, testicular pain, and pain in the rectum.
For women, the infection usually takes place in the cervix. Symptoms they might experience include irritation of the vagina, discharge, pain during sex, pain or discharge from the rectum, pain in the lower abdomen, and extreme pelvic pain. The pelvic pain is often due to the infection moving from the cervix into the reproductive tract.
There are two different ways that physicians can use to test for Chlamydia. The first test is a swab test. The physician will take a swab from the urethra in men and cervix in women. The individual will also have to have a rectum swab if they have had anal sex. The second method for testing for Chlamydia is a urine test. This test is most common in men than women because urine testing is less accurate than the cervical swab.
Prescription antibiotics such as azithromycin or doxycycline are usually given in order to treat Chlamydia. Whether the medication is prescribed for a week or a month, be sure not to skip pills. If you skip pills or stop taking them too soon, the infection can continue or come back easily.
Chlamydia is a serious medical infection and should be treated as soon as possible. If you or someone you know is suffering from the above symptoms or have been exposed to Chlamydia, see a physician immediately to be screened and treated.