What is Chlamydia?
Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection caused by bacteria. It is estimated that
chlamydia is the most common STD with 3 – 4 million new cases each year. Rates of
chlamydia are highest in the West and Midwest, part of the contry.
How is it Spread?
Chlamydia is spread by direct person-to-person contact. It is almost always transmitted
through sexual contact. It is also possible for pregnant women to pass the bacteria to their
infant during birth.
How Do you Know if you are Infected?
Because symptoms are not always present, you may be infected with chlamydia and not
know it. You can be tested for chlamydia and other sexually transmitted diseases at your
local doctor. To test for chlamydia, the physician will use a cotton swab to collect cells
from your genitals.
What are the Symptoms?
If present, symptoms may appear in a week to a month after infection. Seventy-five
percent of persons with chlamydia may show no symptoms. Men are more likely than
women to show signs of infection.
Chlamydia in Men
Painful urination.

Mild, sticky, milky or mucus-like discharge from penis
Testicular pain
Irritation around opening of the penis
Symptoms may seem to “come and go”
Chlamydia is often silent in women, with up to 90% of women asymptomatic. Women
can carry the bacteria for months or even years without knowing it. This makes screening
very important. When symptoms do present, they include the following:
Chlamydia in Women
Mild, milky or mucus-like discharge
Painful urination
Painful intercourse
Bleeding between menses
Abdominal pain
It is possible to acquire the infection in the pharynx (throat) from oral-genital contact.

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Infected persons can also transfer the infection to their eyes.
Are There Any Long Term Complications?
When treated early, there are no long term consequences of chlamydia. Serious
complications can result however when left untreated.
Long term complications in men may include:
Epididymitis – an inflammation of the testicles that can cause sterility
Prostatitis – an infection of the prostate gland
Reiter’s Syndrome – an autoimmune, arthritis-like condition
Long term complications in women may include:
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease – an ascending infection that spreads from the
vagina and cervix to the uterus and fallopian tubes. PID can lead to sterility.
Perihepatitis – an infection around the liver
Reiter’s Syndrome – an automimmune, arthritis-like condition
Chlamydia is very dangerous when passed to infants. It can cause eye infections,
blindness, ear infections, pneumonia, and death
How is it Treated?
Chlamydia can be treated with antibiotics. It is important that all of the antibiotics are
taken as prescribed, and that the infected person withhold from sexual intercourse during
treatment. Proper hand washing is essential, as the bacteria can be transferred to the eyes.
All sex partners should be informed to seek treatment. Because chlamydia is often silent,
they may not show symptoms of the infection until long term consequences have
How Can You Protect Yourself?
Abstinence from both genital and oral sex is the only way to be 100% sure that you are
protected from chlamydia and other sexually transmitted infections.
If you are sexually active, you can lower your risk by following these guidelines:
Use Condoms. Although condoms do not provide perfect protection, they do
provide the best protection available. Condoms should be used for vaginal, anal,
and oral intercourse.
Form a monogamous relationship in which both partners are faithful at all
times. Do not engage in sexual intimacy until both of you have been tested.
Limit your number of partners. Your risk of acquiring chlamydia and other
STD’s increases as your number of partners increases.
Regular Check-ups. STD testing should be part of your regular exam. Do not
wait for symtoms to appear. You should see your health care provider regularly if
you or your partner have other sexual contacts.
ALCOHOL OR USING OTHER DRUGS. Drugs reduce your ability to make
sensible decisions.


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