Females might have:
Males might have:
Long term effects
For more information, see
Chlamydia in the United States
What is Chlamydia?
Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that is caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. Because approximately 75% of women and 50% of men have no symptoms, most people infected with chlamydia are not aware of their infections and therefore may not seek health care.
When diagnosed, chlamydia can be easily treated and cured. Untreated, chlamydia can cause severe, costly reproductive and other health problems which include both short- and long-term consequences, including pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which is the critical link to infertility, and potentially fatal tubal pregnancy.
Up to 40% of women with untreated chlamydia will develop PID. Undiagnosed PID caused by chlamydia is common. Of those with PID, 20% will become infertile; 18% will experience debilitating, chronic pelvic pain; and 9% will have a life-threatening tubal pregnancy. Tubal pregnancy is the leading cause of first-trimester, pregnancy-related deaths in American women.
Chlamydia may also result in adverse outcomes of pregnancy, including neonatal conjunctivitis and pneumonia. In addition, recent research has shown that women infected with chlamydia have a 3 - 5 fold increased risk of acquiring HIV, if exposed.
Chlamydia is also common among young men, who are seldom offered screening. Untreated chlamydia in men typically causes urethral infection, but may also result in complications such as swollen and tender testicles.
What is the magnitude of the problem?
Chlamydia is the most frequently reported infectious disease in the United States. Though 526,653 cases were reported in 1997, an estimated 3 million cases occur annually. Severe under reporting is largely a result of substantial numbers of asymptomatic persons whose infections are not identified because screening is not available. Highlights of reported data are as follows:
How are adolescents and young women affected?
What does chlamydia cost?
The annual cost of chlamydia and its consequences in the United States is more than $2 billion. The CDC estimates screening and treatment programs can be conducted at an annual cost of $175 million. Every dollar spent on screening and treatment saves $12 in complications that result from untreated chlamydia.
What is being done to address the problem?
In 1993, Congress appropriated funds to begin a national STD-related infertility prevention program. Through a cooperative effort between CDC and the Office of Population Affairs, the program involves strong collaboration among family planning, STD and primary health care programs, and public health laboratories. Significant progress has been made where screening programs have been fully implemented.
Due to resource constraints, the program continues only as demonstration projects in most parts of the country. CDC estimates that nearly 75% of women at risk reside in 30 states that are only just beginning to screen for chlamydia. For example, in California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York, and Texas, more than 200,000 women in each state who attend publicly funded family planning and STD clinics currently do not have access to screening and treatment.
Since these programs have focused on prevention efforts in women, many men with chlamydia are not diagnosed and treated, thus continuing the cycle of infection.
CDC has developed recommendations for the prevention and management of chlamydia for all providers of health care. These recommendations call for screening of all sexually active females under 20 years of age at least annually, and annual screening of women ages 20 and older with one or more risk factors for chlamydia (i.e., new or multiple sex partners and lack of barrier contraception). All women with infection of the cervix and all pregnant women should be tested.
What still needs to be done?
Programs to provide testing for infection through screening and subsequent treatment are needed nationwide. A successful program must include comprehensive screening and treatment not only for women but also for men. Recent research advances have made available extremely accurate urine tests which make testing of males more feasible and less uncomfortable than older tests. In addition, single-dose antibiotic therapy promises to substantially enhance the likelihood of successful treatment -- especially in adolescents -- as compared to commonly used 7-day oral medication.
1. Rates are per 100,000 population.
Article courtesy of the NIAID:
Chlamydial ("kla-MID-ee-uhl") infection is a
curable sexually transmitted disease (STD), which is caused by a bacterium
called Chlamydia trachomatis. You can get genital chlamydial infection
during oral, vaginal, or anal sexual contact with an infected partner. It can
cause serious problems in men and women as well as in newborn babies of infected
What Are the Symptoms of This STD?
Because chlamydial infection does not make most people
sick, you can have it and not know it. Those who do have symptoms may have an
abnormal discharge (mucus or pus) from the vagina or penis or pain while
urinating. These early symptoms may be very mild. Symptoms usually appear within
one to three weeks after being infected. Because the symptoms may be mild or not
exist at all, you might not seek care and get treated.
How Does the Doctor Diagnose Chlamydial Infection?
Chlamydial infection is easily confused with gonorrhea
because the symptoms of both diseases are similar and the diseases can occur
together, though rarely.
How is Chlamydial Infection Treated?
If you are infected with C. trachomatis, your
doctor or other health care worker will probably give you a prescription for an
antibiotic such as azithromycin (taken for one day only) or doxycycline (taken
for seven days) to treat people with chlamydial infection. Or, you might get a
prescription for another antibiotic such as erythromycin or ofloxacin.
What Can Happen if the Infection is Not Treated?
In women, untreated chlamydial infections can lead to PID.
In men, untreated chlamydial infections may lead to pain or swelling in the
scrotal area, which is a sign of inflammation of a part of the male reproductive
system located near the testicles known as the epididymis. Left untreated, these
complications can prevent people from having children.
Can Chlamydial Infection Affect a Newborn Baby?
A baby who is exposed to C. trachomatis in the
birth canal during delivery may develop an eye infection or pneumonia. Symptoms
of conjunctivitis or "pink eye," which include discharge and swollen
eyelids, usually develop within the first 10 days of life.
How Can I Prevent Getting Chlamydial Infection?
You can reduce your chances of getting chlamydia or of
giving it to your partner by using male latex condoms correctly every time you
have sexual intercourse.
What Research is Going On?
Scientists are looking for better ways to diagnose, treat, and prevent chlamydial infections. NIAID-supported scientists recently completed sequencing the genome for C. trachomatis. The sequence represents an encyclopedia of information about the organism. This accomplishment will give scientists important information as they try to develop a safe and effective vaccine. Developing topical microbicides (preparations that can be inserted into the vagina to prevent infection) that are effective and easy for women to use is also a major research focus.
Chlamydia infections are caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. Clinically, genital chlamydia may present in males as a urethritis and in females as a mucopurulent cervicitis(1). In women (and perhaps men), 50% to 70% of chlamydia infections are often clinically silent. Unrecognized and untreated infections can remain with the host for months and can be transmitted to sex partners(2). For females, complications resulting from untreated or under-treated chlamydia can be severe: ectopic pregnancy (30%)(3), pelvic inflammatory disease (25%-65% )(4) and infertility. Vertical transmission of chlamydia is the primary pathogen responsible for infant infectious conjunctivitis (40%) and infant pneumonia (73%)(5). The morbidity of chlamydia and its associated costs make chlamydia infections an important public health issue. Genital chlamydia has been the most commonly reported sexually transmitted disease in Canada since becoming a notifiable disease in 1990.
In 1991, data were collected from nine provinces/territories only, with a total reported number of 39,003 cases. If the same rate were assumed for the missing provinces/territories, the number of cases would have been 51,264 for 1991. There were 37,551 reported cases in 1995, which indicates a 26.8% drop in the number of cases reported nationally over the last 5 years, using the estimated figures of 1991. The incidence rate based on actual reported cases dropped by 30.3%, from 182.2 cases per 100,000 population in 1991 to 127 cases per 100,000 in 1995 (Figure 3).
Females represented 75.8% of genital chlamydia cases reported in 1995. The under-representation of males is most likely due to the high proportion of asymptomatic cases (for which medical intervention was not sought) and the lack of screening opportunities compared with those for women.
In 1995, 70.3% of all reported cases were between the ages of 15 and 24 years (Annex 2). Females in the 15-19-year age group had the highest reported rate, of 1,109.1 cases per 100,000, which was almost 9 times the national rate. The highest reported rate for males was 335.6 cases per 100,000 in the 20-24-year age group, 2.6 times the national rate (Figure 4).
Regionally, the Northwest Territories (NWT) reported a rate of infection of 1,388.5 cases per 100,000 population, an incidence 11 times higher than the national rate (127/100,000). The NWT was followed by the Yukon (518.0/100,000) and Manitoba (264.4/100,000). Newfoundland had a low rate of 47.5 cases per 100,000 population (Figure 5).
Over the past several years, there have been substantial advances in the diagnostic technology of sexually transmitted diseases - for example, DNA amplification methods, such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and ligase chain reaction (LCR). These tests have the advantage over the current culture methods in that non-invasive samples (e.g., urine) can be used. As well, the tests have proven to be more sensitive at detecting low-level infections than the current methods(6,7) without compromising specificity(8). Furthermore, the PCR tests may define a group of patients whose infection with C. trachomatis could have been missed by conventional assay methods - as for groups of men aged 24 years and over(9).
What is chlamydia?
Chlamydia is the name of several types of bacteria. Chlamydia trachoma, for example, has been a major cause of blindness for centuries. Chlamydia trachomatis is sexually transmitted. One strain occurs primarily in the tropics and causes lymphogranuloma venereum � symptoms include skin lesions and swelling of certain glands in the genital area. The other, we simply call "chlamydia," a very common infection in the U.S.
What are the symptoms of chlamydia?
When symptoms do occur, they may begin in as little as 5-10 days after infection.
When women have symptoms, they may experience:
When men have symptoms, they may experience:
These symptoms are like the symptoms of gonorrhea. They are called nongonococcal urethritis (NGU). Men often don't take these symptoms seriously because the symptoms may appear only early in the day and can be very mild.
In women and men, chlamydia may cause the rectum to itch and bleed. It can also result in a discharge and diarrhea. If it infects the eyes, chlamydia may cause redness, itching, and a discharge.
Is chlamydia dangerous?
PID can scar and block the fallopian tubes. That can make a woman sterile and unable to get pregnant. Fertilized eggs may not reach the uterus because tubes are blocked. If they develop in the tubes, this is called an ectopic pregnancy. A woman may die if a pregnancy develops outside her uterus. She usually needs emergency surgery. Women with PID of the fallopian tubes are 7-10 times more likely than other women to have ectopic pregnancies.
The symptoms of PID include:
Chlamydia also makes men sterile. It can spread from the urethra to the testicles. Then it can result in a condition called epididymitis. Epididymitis can cause sterility. Chlamydia causes more than 250,000 cases of acute epididymitis in the U.S. every year. Symptoms include fever as well as swelling and extreme pain in the scrotum.
Chlamydia may cause Reiter's syndrome � usually in young men. Symptoms usually appear in this order:
Chlamydia does not only affect women. It also poses serious health risks for men.
Of the estimated one and a half million men in the U.S. who get chlamydia each year one percent � 15,000 � may develop Reiter's syndrome. Perhaps one-third of these men � 5,000 � will become permanently disabled each year ome women may be affected by Reiter's syndrome.
How does chlamydia affect pregnancy?
These children can also develop chlamydia pneumonia, a kind of pneumonia that can be fatal. This infection is harder to treat in infants than adults.
Chlamydia also may cause heavy bleeding before delivery. It might cause membranes to break early, resulting in premature delivery. It also may be connected to miscarriage, stillbirth, or low birthweight.
Fortunately, treatment of chlamydia is successful in nine out of ten pregnant women.
Pap tests sometimes suggest that chlamydia tests are needed. They should not be relied upon as a check for chlamydia.
Gonorrhea and chlamydia may have similar symptoms. It is important to tell them apart. Certain medications can kill gonorrhea but don't work for chlamydia. Other sexually transmitted infections may hide the symptoms of chlamydia.
Is there a cure for chlamydia?
Ofloxacin, erythromycin, and erythromycin ethylsuccinate are also prescribed to cure chlamydia. Erythromycin is often prescribed for pregnant women and other people who cannot take tetracycline. It is also used to treat infants with eye infections or pneumonia caused by chlamydia. Your clinician can help you decide which is the best treatment.
PID is usually treated with medicine. Surgery may be needed as well. But sterility caused by chlamydia is often permanent.
If you are treated for chlamydia, or any other sexually transmitted infection, remember:
How can people with chlamydia avoid spreading it?
Anyone with a sex partner who has NGU, MPC, or acute PID should be checked for chlamydia and other sexually transmitted infections. Since chlamydia infection often has no symptoms, women at risk should ask to be checked for sexually transmitted infections every 6-12 months.
Any woman who thinks that she or her partner has chlamydia should tell her clinician immediately. This is especially important for pregnant women.
Does using birth control increase my risk of getting
Only female and male condoms offer good protection. Spermicides used with diaphragms, cervical caps, contraceptive foams, gels, and suppositories may offer some protection.
Women who contract chlamydia while using the IUD are at higher risk of developing PID. That is why only women in stable, monogamous relationships are advised to use the IUD.
What is it?
Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). It is caused by a kind of bacteria.
How is it spread?
Chlamydia is spread through unprotected oral, vaginal, or anal sex with an infected person. Sometimes, chlamydia can be spread to the eyes by the hands or through direct contact with the infected fluids. It can also be passed from an infected mother to her baby during birth. A
person remains infectious until he or she is properly treated.
What are the symptoms?
Approximately 80% of women and 50% of men infected with chlamydia have no symptoms. They can unknowingly pass the infection to their sexual partner(s).
Women may have itching or more discharge from the vagina. They may also have bleeding during or after sexual intercourse, pain in the lower abdomen or pain when passing urine.
Men may have discharge and itching around the urethra. The urethra is the opening in the penis. They may also have burning when they pass urine, or pain and swelling in the testicles.
How is it diagnosed?
The doctor can test women for chlamydia by taking a swab from the cervix. The cervix is the opening to the womb or uterus. In men, a swab is taken from the urethra. Men should not pass urine 2 hours before the test. Some clinics may use a urine test for chlamydia. It is hard to detect chlamydia in the throat or rectum.
What are the complications?
Untreated chlamydia in women may lead to a condition called pelvic inflammatory disease. Pelvic inflammatory disease is also know as PID. It is a serious infection of the lining of the womb or uterus, the fallopian tubes and ovaries. Sometimes the fallopian tubes of a woman with PID are blocked by scar tissue and her eggs cannot pass through. When this happens, she may not be able to get pregnant. If the fallopian tubes are only partly blocked so the sperm can pass through, she may have a pregnancy inside the fallopian tube. This is called an ectopic pregnancy. Women with untreated chlamydia may also have miscarriages.
Men with untreated chlamydia may become sterile when the tubes carrying the sperm are blocked by scar tissue. They may have swelling and pain in their testicles. This is a condition called epididymitis. Some men may also develop arthritis. Infants who are born to mothers with untreated chlamydia may become ill with pneumonia or eye infections.
How is it treated?
Chlamydia is treated with antibiotic pills. Some of the commonly used antibiotics include Doxycycline, Erythromycin, and Azithromycin. It is important that you complete the treatment as directed by your doctor or clinic. Even if your symptoms have disappeared, you must finish all the pills to make sure that you are cured.
If you have PID or epididymitis, you may need to go into a hospital and be treated with intravenous antibiotics.
What about sexual partners?
All sexual partners within the past 3 months should be examined and treated. If you have not had sex in the past three months, your last sexual partner should be examined and treated. Tell your partner(s) that having no symptoms does not mean there is no infection. Your public nurse can help you notify your partner(s). Your name will be kept confidential.
Is follow-up important?
It is a good idea to have a follow-up test 4 weeks after you have compleated the treatment to make sure that you are cured.
Reprinted with permission of Toronto Public Health
What is Chlamydia?
How do you get Chlamydia?
What are the symptoms of Chlamydia?
How does the doctor diagnose Chlamydia?
How is Chlamydia treated?
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