Chlamydia

Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the bacterium, Chlamydia trachomatis, which can harm a woman's reproductive organs. Even though symptoms of chlamydia are usually mild or absent, it can cause serious complications like infertility. Some women may not even know they have chlamydia.

Symptoms

  • Men: You may have a discharge from your penis or a burning sensation when you go to the bathroom. You may also have burning and itching around the opening of your penis. Pain and swelling in the testicles are uncommon. Men who have receptive anal intercourse may get chlamydia in the rectum. Chlamydia in the rectum can cause rectal pain, discharge, or bleeding. Chlamydia can also be found in your throat if you have oral sex with an infected partner.
  • Women: Chlamydia initially infects the cervix and the urethra (the canal that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body). If you are infected you may have an abnormal vaginal discharge or a burning sensation when you go to the bathroom. If the infection spreads from the cervix to the fallopian tubes, you may have no signs or symptoms, or you may have lower abdominal pain, low back pain, nausea, fever, pain during intercourse, or bleeding between periods. Chlamydia infections of the cervix can spread to the rectum. Women who have receptive anal intercourse may get chlamydia in the rectum, which can cause rectal pain, discharge, or bleeding. Chlamydia can also be found in your throat if you have oral sex with an infected partner.

Prevention

You can protect yourself and others from chlamydia by practicing safer sex. (more)

Testing & Diagnosis

In order to diagnose and treat chlamydia, your doctor will take a detailed sexual history, conduct a thorough physical examination, and order several laboratory tests, including a test for HIV. Your doctor will also give you detailed information about how to prevent transmission of chlamydia to any of your sexual partner(s). You should tell your sex partner(s) if you have an STD so that your partners can seek medical attention. People who are diagnosed with an STD may be contacted by public health professionals to make sure that their sex partners are counseled, evaluated, and treated.

In collaboration with the CDC and Office of Population Affairs (OPA) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Rhode Island offers an Infertility Prevention Project (IPP) that funds chlamydia and gonorrhea screening and treatment services for low-income, sexually-active women attending family planning clinics in Rhode Island. 

Treatment

Chlamydia can be easily treated and cured with antibiotics. A single dose of azithromycin or a week of doxycycline (twice daily) are the most commonly used treatments. HIV-positive persons with chlamydia should receive the same treatment as those who are HIV negative. Your physician can give you a prescription or give you the medication for your sexual partner(s). You must not have sex until 7 days after both you and your partner have finished all your medications. If your partner starts treatment after you do, wait to have sex until 7 days after your partner completes treatment. If your partner is not treated you will be re-infected very quickly.

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