Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection that affects nearly 1 in 20 sexually active women in the UK, making it one of the most common STIs in the country.
Around seventy-five per cent of women and half of all men with chlamydia do not display any symptoms. In those cases where symptoms are present – which can involve an unusual discharge or burning sensation while urinating – they are often so mild that the person with the infection does not realise anything is wrong. For this reason chlamydia is often known as the ‘silent’ disease.
If left untreated, the chlamydia infection will eventually spread to the reproductive organs and once there it can cause permanent damage. In some cases the chlamydia bacteria will lead to inflammation of the pelvis, damaging the Fallopian tubes that transport eggs from the ovaries to the womb, causing them to become blocked and stop working. Pelvic inflammatory disease can lead to a fever and in rare cases can even be life threatening.
Although it is not impossible a for a woman with blocked Fallopian tubes to become pregnant, there is a greatly increased chance of the foetus developing the tubes rather than in the womb. This condition, known as an ectopic pregnancy, can lead to a life-threatening condition as the tube may eventually burst causing serious internal bleeding.
Chlamydia has also been linked to miscarriage and premature birth. In some instances, the infection can be passed from mother to baby, either during the birth or before, which can cause the child to be born with conjunctivitis and pneumonia.
Although Chlamydia can be treated and cured with a simple course of antibiotics – even if you are pregnant or breastfeeding – the fact that many of those with the infection do not realise that they have it means many women become infertile unnecessarily. The same bacteria that is responsible for causing chlamydia is also a leading cause of preventable blindness in many parts of the world.
In men chlamydia can infect the tubes that carry urine from the bladder out of the penis or even to the prostate gland. It can also affect fertility by causing the testicles and tubes that transport sperm to swell up, preventing sperm from being released. A rare complication, more often seen in men than women, is inflammation of the joints, known as Reiter’s syndrome; however, there is a natural bladder product that women can also take.
You can be tested for chlamydia by providing your doctor with a urine sample.
If you are diagnosed with the infection you will not know how long you have had the infection for or who you caught it from. This can be extremely difficult to come to terms with and it may help for you to talk through the issues with staff at your local healthcare centre. If you delay seeking treatment you run the risk of the infection causing more serious problems.
Another issue linked to the lack of symptoms is that, unless both partners are treated at the same time, there is a strong possibility that one partner will simply reinfect the other, telling your partner about your STD on time could make the difference.
Freedom Health offer Chlamydia Testing and Treatment