One of the most common sexually transmitted disease, especially among the teens, is Chlamydia. It can infect both men and women and there are around 15 million cases of Chlamydia reported every year.
Signs and symptoms
Chlamydia could be asymptomatic, which means that there are usually no symptoms that most women are not even aware that they have the infection. The symptoms could be mild that disappears after a few days. Only in severe infections could there be manifested symptoms and they are:
· Burning sensation during urination
· Heavier than usual vaginal discharges
· Pain felt in the lower abdominal area
· Blood spotting or may experience irregular periods
Chlamydia is easily transmitted by an infected partner through genital, oral, and anal sex. It can even be carried by the hand to any part of the body such as the eyes and if the mother is infected could easily be transferred to a newborn.
Things to watch out for:
Since most people are not aware that they have Chlamydia, it could get untreated especially during the onset of the infection. Yet, the drawbacks that can be produced in women are:
· Pneumonia or eye infections for newborns who were delivered vaginally by their mothers.
· PID or pelvic inflammatory disease as Chlamydia normally infects the cervix and vagina, but it could quickly ascend and spread to the fallopian tubes and uterus. This could sometimes cause infertility in some women and cases of ectopic pregnancy and chronic pelvic pain are also some of the causes of Chlamydia.
· Lymphogranuloma venerum. The lymph nodes become swollen and the genital area could be covered in open sores when Chlamydia infection is already severe. The incidence of this has alarmingly increased in developed countries when it was rare in the past.
· Chlamydia can cause blindness. If the infection reaches the eye through the hand it progresses to Trachoma which is the common cause of blindness.
· A higher risk of acquiring HIV.
Screening is usually done by a vaginal swab and pelvic exam. It is recommended that annual screening tests should be a requirement for women under 25 who are sexually active, and for women over 25 who have multiple or new sexual partners. Pregnant women should also have screening done to eliminate the risk of infecting their newborn should they be tested positive.
Antibiotics are the antidote for Chlamydia. The important thing to do is to take all the prescribed dosage and quantity of antibiotics and comply with follow-up checkups with the doctor. It is imperative that should there be a multiplicity of sexual partners, all should be treated to prevent further infection.
Since Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease, it naturally follows that prevention could be achieved either by having a monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner or completely abstain from sex.
Condoms could provide a small measure of protection yet it is not a guarantee since Chlamydia could be transmitted by hand as well.
There are steps to develop a vaccine that may be in the form of a microbicidal gel or cream but until this becomes a reality, it may be well that preventive measures should always be practiced, and if infected, to comply with treatments.