Chlamydia - Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Prevention & Treatment

Chlamydia: An STD Disorder

Dr.Imran Majid profile Authored by Dr.Imran Majid on 7 Jan 2015 - 13:07.

Chlamydia is one of the commonest causative organisms of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) in both sexes. Although Chlamydia may affect any age, the infection is quite common in young women. In majority of cases, Chlamydia  remain silent inside the human host and so the infection often remains undiagnosed as it does not present any notable signs or symptoms.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimations, approximately 8 million new infections occur each year, mostly affecting teens and young adults. Among the Chlamydia the commonest species involved in human infections is Chlamydia Trachmoatis. This organism is transmitted through sexual intercourse and leads to clinical disease in a subset of the infected individuals. In addition to sexual intercourse, the other mode of transmission is from mother to child during delivery.

Chlamydia may not cause any sign or symptom in majority of patients, but in some cases, the infections with these organisms lead to certain symptoms after an incubation period of about 3 weeks. Symptoms of chlamydial infection  are often mild and usually do not lead to  any significant disturbance in daily life. Common symptoms may include:

Symptoms in men:

  • Pain during micturition (urination)
  • Pain in lower abdomen
  • Abnormal urethral discharge
  • Burning sensation inside penis
  • Pain in testicles
  • Rarely, the testicles may be inflamed

Symptoms in women:

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Pain during intercourse (dyspareunia)
  • Abnormal bleeding after intercourse
  • Pain or burning during micturition
  • Fever
  • Nausea

When to see a doctor?

Visit your doctor immediately if you or your partner is experiencing any of the above mentioned symptoms, especially vaginal or urethral discharge. It is recommended to get the treatment, even if you have milder symptoms.

Diagnosis of Chlamydial infection involves clinical history and physical examination and certain laboratory tests.

Physical exam: To look for visible and experienced signs and symptoms that may signify Chlamydia.

Assessment of medical history: To look for a history of any other STDs in the past.

Urine analysis: To look for signs of infection causing Chlamydia.

A swab analysis: A swab of discharge from the cervix (in women) or from the urethra or the anus (in men) will be assessed to detect the Chlamydia infection.

As a part of regular checkups, screening is recommended in:

  • Teens and youngsters who are sexually active (below 24 years).
  • Pregnant women (as a part of initial screening after conception).
  • Those who have multiple sex partners and those who had multiple sex partners in the past.

Being linked to a variety of factors may put you at a risk of developing Chlamydia. These may include:

  • Being a young woman or man (below 24 years)
  • Involved in sexual activity at a very young age
  • Having multiple sex partners
  • Having unprotected intercourse
  • Having any other sexually transmitted infections in the present or past.

Complications: Although Chlamydia is a common STD and is mostly symptomless or produces mild symptoms, untreated or poorly managed Chlamydia may lead to several complications. These may include:

  • Increased risk of getting other  sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV infection and Gonorrhoea.
  • Increased risk of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women
  • Increased risk of epididymitis/epididymoorchitis (an infection of the epididymis/testicles) and prostatitis (prostate gland infection) in men
  • Increased risk of pneumonia and other severe infection in newborns with infected mother
  • Infertility due to blockage in Fallopian tube
  • Increased risk of developing reactive arthritis

Chlamydia is a common infection and can be easily cured with a right approach including medications.

Drugs and medications: The mainstay of treating Chlamydial infection is Oral antibiotics. These include:

1.      Azithromycin in a dose of 1000mg stat

2.      Doxycycline in a dose of 100mg twice daily for 2 weeks

3.      Erythromycin 500mg 6 hourly for 2 weeks

Usually, the symptoms vanish within 2 weeks of starting treatment.

Obviously, the easiest way to keep such nagging STDs away is to employ safe sexual practices including, having a single sexual partner. However, certain measures may help one prevent the Chlamydia:

  • Using latex condoms eliminates the risk, but may not assure complete prevention.
  • Getting screened regularly if you belong to high risk group.
  • Avoiding vaginal douching as it wipes away good bacteria and make you prone to infection.
  • Strengthening your immunity
  • Avoiding tampons
*Disclaimer This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only. Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.