CHLAMYDIA: CAUSES, SYMPTOMS, TREATMENT, PREVENTION

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection. The disease causes many serious complications, even infertility if not treated promptly. So what is Chlamydia ? What are the causes, symptoms, treatment and prevention? Please refer to the article below.

What is Chlamydia disease?

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the bacteria chlamydia trachomatis. The disease tends to increase worldwide, with the United States alone having nearly 3 million people each year with Chlamydia, common between the ages of 14 and 24.

Chlamydia occurs in both men and women. Men can get Chlamydia in the urethra (inside the penis), rectum, or throat. Women with Chlamydia infection in the cervix, rectum, or throat. Chlamydia is not difficult to treat, however, if not detected and examined promptly, the disease can cause serious complications.

How is Chlamydia transmitted?

Unprotected sex is the main cause of Chlamydia transmission. A person with Chlamydia can spread the infection to his or her sexual partner, through anal, oral, or vaginal sex.

The more sexual partners, the higher the risk of infection. In addition, Chlamydia can be transmitted from mother to child through the placenta or sharing sex toys with an infected person.

Symptoms of Chlamydia infection

Most people with early stage Chlamydia infection have no obvious signs or symptoms. Even when present, the signs and symptoms of the disease are often so mild that it is easy to ignore. Later, when symptoms gradually appeared, the disease progressed to the acute stage.

1. In men, Chlamydia has the following symptoms:

  • Painful urination.
  • Burning, itching spreading at the tip of the orifice of the penis.
  • There is a milky, foul-smelling discharge from the opening of the penis.
  • In severe cases, there may be pain and swelling in one or both testicles.
  • Semen disorder accompanied by blood.

2. Chlamydia symptoms in women:

  • Unusual or foul-smelling vaginal discharge.
  • Vaginal itching is intense, painful when going to the toilet.
  • Pain during sex.
  • Abdominal pain accompanied by fever, nausea.
  • Cervical infection.
  • Vaginal bleeding.
  • Lower abdominal pain.
  • Pain in the upper abdomen caused by bacteria moving, spreading to the rectum.

3. Other signs:

  • Chlamydia that infects the rectum (in men or women) causes pain, discharge, or bleeding.
  • Anal: discomfort and discharge.
  • Throat: usually asymptomatic.
  • Eyes: redness, pain and infection.​

Causes of Chlamydia

Chlamydia is caused by the bacteria chlamydia trachomatis. This is an intracellular bacterium, which has a very fast growth and reproduction rate. Chlamydia has 3 variants that differ in clinical and biological manifestations:

  • Chlamydia psittaci: commonly found in birds, infects humans and causes parrot fever.
  • Chlamydia pneumoniae: the main cause of respiratory disease.
  • Chlamydia trachomatis: the main variant that causes sexually transmitted infections or trachoma.

Chlamydia trachomatis is a special bacterium, obligate living cell, spherical, intermediate in size between bacteria and viruses because of its genetic system. Therefore, chlamydia trachomatis can be classified as a virus or bacteria. Chlamydia trachomatis is contained in secretions from the vagina, urethra, and cervix.

Chlamydia is spread through vaginal, oral, and anal sex. Vaginal fluid or semen containing the bacteria chlamydia trachomatis is passed from person to person. Pregnant women can pass Chlamydia to their babies during childbirth.

Here are some ways to spread Chlamydia:

  • Casual sex: bacteria are transferred from the penis to the vagina of a partner or vice versa.
  • Anal sex: bacteria are passed from the penis to the anus of a partner or vice versa.
  • Oral sex: bacteria are passed from your mouth to your partner’s penis, vagina, anus, or vice versa.
  • Toy sex: bacteria are transferred from a toy to a person’s mouth, penis, vagina, or anus.
  • Manual genital or anal irritation: less commonly, infected vaginal fluid or semen can come into contact with the eyes causing infection (conjunctivitis).

Risk factors for increased chance of infection

Factors that increase the risk of Chlamydia infection:

  • Having sex under the age of 25.
  • Relationships with many sexual partners.
  • Do not use condoms or other safety measures when having sex.
  • Have a history of Chlamydia infection or other sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Homosexual sex.

How common is Chlamydia?

Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted infection. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2018 said that there were about 4 million cases of Chlamydia infection recorded in the country.

In particular, women have a higher rate of disease than men, most of them are from 15-24 years old. 1 in 20 sexually active young women has chlamydia. In addition, certain demographic characteristics such as age, sex, and race may influence the incidence of Chlamydia.

Is Chlamydia dangerous?

Have! Early Chlamydia has no obvious signs or symptoms, so the disease is often overlooked. After re-detection and treatment at a late stage, the disease has appeared complications.

Some common complications:

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID): occurs when bacteria spread to infect the cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. PID can cause infertility, ectopic pregnancy, or chronic pelvic pain.
  • Infection near the testicles ( epididymitis ): causes inflammation, fever, pain, and swelling of the scrotum.
  • Prostate infection: affects the function and quality of the testicles, the ejaculate is not healthy for conception.
  • Infection in the Newborn: Chlamydia can be passed from the vaginal canal to the fetus. Babies are born at risk of pneumonia or serious eye infections.
  • Ectopic pregnancy: a fertilized egg that implants and develops outside the uterus. An ectopic pregnancy needs to be removed to prevent dangerous complications.​

What should I do if I have a Chlamydia infection?

It is necessary to distinguish Chlamydia from other sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea, Candida, etc., because the symptoms often have similarities and differences, making it difficult to diagnose accurately. Therefore, as soon as there are signs of suspicion of disease, it is necessary to quickly go to the hospital for advice, examination and timely treatment.

How to diagnose Chlamydia?

When there are any suspicious symptoms, it is necessary to quickly go to reputable medical facilities for testing, early diagnosis and treatment to increase the chances of curing the disease and minimize dangerous complications. Some of the tests used to diagnose Chlamydia include:

  • Nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT): Your doctor will take a sample of fluid from your vagina, urethra, or urine and have it tested. This method can be performed with urine samples from both men and women.
  • Direct fluorescent antibody test (DFA): detects Chlamydia antigen by monoclonal antibody but the sensitivity is not high, reaching about 60% – 85% compared to culture. Specificity can reach 99%.
  • Enzyme-linked immunoassay (EIA): helps to find anti-Chlamydia antibodies in the patient’s blood, and at the same time, activates the immune system. The sensitivity of this method reaches 60%-80%, specificity 97%-99%.
  • PCR (Polymerase), LCR (Ligase chain reaction) and TMA: techniques have the highest sensitivity and specificity. Specimens were taken from the cervix, urethra and urine. Specificity reached 99%, sensitivity ranged from 70% – 100%.

How to treat Chlamydia?

Chlamydia can be treated with antibiotics. However, do not stop taking the drug after the symptoms improve, instead, you should see a specialist to be checked and treated definitively, to avoid recurrence of the disease.

In addition, during treatment, patients should note the following:

  • Do not have sex during the treatment period.
  • Contact and inform your partner that you have been infected. Because, they also need to be examined and treated for Chlamydia in a timely manner.
  • Testing for other sexually transmitted diseases: HIV/AIDS, syphilis , gonorrhea , etc.
  • Some cases can be re-infected, so about 3 months after the treatment is over, the patient should see a doctor to check his health status.​

Prevention of Chlamydia

Chlamydia can be cured, but not so that it is subjective with this disease. The best prevention is not to have vaginal, anal, and oral sex. Do not use sex toys. If you have sex, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Using condoms correctly is the most effective method of prevention, even during anal, vaginal or oral sex.
  • Do not have promiscuous sex.
  • Do not share sex toys. If so, clean and disinfect them after each use and cover them with a condom.
  • Do not have sex during treatment.
  • Actively protect yourself by choosing safe sex partners. Also, agree with your partner about using protection when having sex.
  • Periodic health check-up for yourself and your partner to promptly detect sexually transmitted infections, especially those with a liberal lifestyle.
  • Sexually active women under the age of 25 should be screened for Chlamydia at least once a year.
  • Annual screening for older women with new or multiple partners.
  • Screening for chlamydia in pregnant women to limit the risk of transmitting the infection to the baby.

Questions about Chlamydia infection?

1. How long is the incubation period for Chlamydia?

7 – 21 days. The incubation period of Chlamydia is calculated from the time a patient is exposed to the bacterium chlamydia trachomatis, until symptoms become apparent.

2. Does Chlamydia go away on its own?

Are not! Chlamydia cannot go away on its own. If not detected and treated early, the disease can seriously harm your health. At the same time, infecting other people with Chlamydia puts them at risk of serious complications.

3. Is Chlamydia not treated?

Have! Untreated chlamydia can be dangerous to your health. The disease causes many serious complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease, prostate infection, ectopic pregnancy, and even infertility in men and women.

4. How long does Chlamydia take to heal?

1 or 2 weeks! Chlamydia should go away within 1 or 2 weeks. However, the disease can still recur. Therefore, absolutely do not have sex during treatment to avoid re-infection.

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The useful information from the above article will help to understand more about Chlamydia disease , its causes, symptoms, treatment and prevention measures. Therefore, as soon as there are signs of suspicion of disease, it is necessary to quickly see a specialist for advice and treatment plan, in order to limit dangerous complications.