SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS
Chlamydia (cla-mid-ee-ah) is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis. It is the most common bacterial STD in the U.S. Chlamydia can spread from person to person during oral, vaginal, and anal sex. It can be transmitted without complete insertion of a penis into the vagina or anus. It can also be passed from mother to newborn during childbirth. Chlamydia infections are curable with antibiotics.
For women, untreated chlamydia can lead to severe reproductive health problems, including infertility (i.e. difficulty or inability to get pregnant). Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a common result of untreated chlamydia infection in women. In PID, the bacteria move from the vagina up through the cervix and into the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. Blockage and scarring can damage the tubes, causing women who get pregnant to be more likely to have ectopic (“tubal”) pregnancies. Left untreated, PID can cause infertility and chronic pelvic pain.
Chlamydia can lead to PID in women even when there are no symptoms.
Untreated chlamydia can also cause vaginal discharge, urinary tract infections, and miscarriage. Women who have chlamydia during pregnancy can pass it on to their baby during childbirth, which can cause an eye infection or pneumonia in the newborn.
Men with untreated chlamydia can occasionally develop epididymitis, a painful infection of the testicles. Untreated chlamydia infections can also cause inflammation of the prostate and urethral scarring, sometimes leading to infertility
If you are living with HIV and not taking antiretroviral medications, a chlamydia infection can lead to highly concentrated amounts of HIV virus in your genital tissue causing 8–10 times more HIV to be shed in your semen or vaginal secretions. If you are HIV negative and have chlamydia, your immune cells are especially susceptible to HIV, if your partner is carrying the virus. Rectal chlamydia may increase your chance of getting HIV by 10 to 20 times. However, taking medication to prevent HIV (PrEP) can significantly decrease the risk of getting HIV, even when there is an STD present.
Symptoms usually appear one to three weeks after infection, but then go away, even if left untreated. Many people infected with chlamydia never have any symptoms at all.
Antibiotics cure chlamydia. Most often, treatment is one dose of an antibiotic pill. Sometimes, a different antibiotic is used and must be taken twice daily for seven days. It is very important to take all the pills you are given even if you feel better, so the bacteria is completely wiped out.
You should not have sex for one week from when you start antibiotics. If you still have symptoms after you've completed the treatment, it's important to go back to your provider for a check-up.
Your sex partners need to be treated as well. If your sex partners are not treated, they can give the infection back to you, or infect others. We can provide you with medicine for your partner.
Using condoms consistently and correctly for oral, anal, and vaginal sex is your best bet for staying sexually healthy. Since chlamydia can be spread even if the penis does not completely enter into the vagina or butt, it's important to use a condom from the very beginning to end of sexual contact.