Urethritis in men and urethritis and cervicitis in women compose a group of infections that are linked to one organism: Chlamydia trachomatis. These chlamydial infections are the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the United States, affecting an estimated 4 million Americans each year.
Trachoma inclusion conjunctivitis, a chlamydial infection that occurs rarely in the United States, is a leading cause of blindness in Third World countries. Lymphogranuloma venereum, a rare disease in the United States, is also caused by C. trachomatis.
Untreated, chlamydial infections can lead to such complications as acute epididymitis, salpingitis, pelvic inflammatory disease and, eventually, sterility. Some studies show that chlamydial infections in pregnant women are associated with spontaneous abortion and premature delivery. Other studies haven't confirmed these findings.
Transmission of C. trachomatis primarily follows vaginal or rectal intercourse or oral-genital contact with an infected person. Because signs and symptoms of chlamydial infections commonly appear late in the course of the disease, sexual transmission of the organism typically occurs unknowingly.
Children born of mothers who have chlamydial infections may contract associated conjunctivitis, otitis media, and pneumonia during passage through the birth canal.
Signs and symptoms
Vaginal discharge, abnormal bleeding, discomfort in the lower abdomen, and sometimes painful urination are some of the symptoms of Chlamydia. Men infected with the bacteria may complain of a burning sensation upon urination, a mucous discharge from the penis, and increased frequency of urination. However, Chlamydia may also be present with no noticeable symptoms at all. As many as 80% of women may be symptom free.
Chlamydia is easily confused with gonorrhea because the symptoms of both diseases are similar and the diseases can occur together, though rarely.
The most reliable ways to find out whether the infection is chlamydia are through laboratory tests.
Antibiotics are used to treat and cure chlamydia. A single dose of azithromycin or a week of doxycycline are the most commonly used treatments. All sex partners should also be treated to avoid reinfection. You should not have sex until you and your sex partner(s) have finished treatment. There are safe antibiotics to cure chlamydia during pregnancy.
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