Chlamydia is the most commonly reported sexually transmitted infection in the United States. A Chlamydia infection is caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. There are about four million cases of Chlamydia in the United States every year.
Chlamydia can be transmitted during vaginal, anal, or oral sex, and can be passed from an infected mother to her baby during a vaginal childbirth. A man does not have to ejaculate to spread the infection. It is not possible to become infected with chlamydia by touching an object like a toilet seat.
The risk of getting chlamydia is greater if you have a new sexual partner, more than one sexual partner, or if you have had chlamydia before.
Chlamydia infections can cause mild to severe symptoms. However, up to 50% of women with a chlamydia infection have no symptoms and do not know that they are infected. This means that it is easy to spread the infection without ever knowing you are infected.
If left untreated, Chlamydia can cause serious reproductive and other health problems with both short-term and long-term consequences. Fortunately, most Chlamydia infections can be cured with antibiotics.
The most common symptoms for women include vaginal discharge, abnormal vaginal bleeding, abdominal pain, pain during sex or pain with urination.
Diagnostic tests include looking at samples of the discharge under a microscope, a swab from the cervix (women) or urethra (men) for a culture, or sending urine to a laboratory to identify the disease-causing bacteria and determine if you are infected.
The most effective way to prevent Chlamydia is to avoid sexual intercourse. Because this is not practical for most people, the following tips are recommended:
Your healthcare provider is the best source of information for questions and concerns related to your medical problem.
You can also visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov/std/chlamydia/default.htm