The symptoms of Chlamydia are different in men and women. Find out what they are, as well as what you can do to prevent this sexually transmitted disease, in the helpful information that follows.
The bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis, which can be spread through vaginal, oral, or anal sex, causes Chlamydia.
Chlamydia affects men and women differently. Women usually experience mild symptoms, including vaginal discharge, painful urination or intercourse, lower abdominal pain, fever, and bleeding between periods. However, untreated Chlamydia can cause more serious complications in women, such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID -- an infection of the uterus and fallopian tubes that can lead to infertility) and chronic pain.
Symptoms in men include painful urination, penile discharge, a burning or itching sensation at the opening of the penis, and testicular pain, but other side effects are rare. The Chlamydia bacteria can cause eye infections in both men and women.
Mothers can pass the bacteria to their infants during childbirth, creating a risk for pneumonia and eye infections in their newborns. Fortunately, a few doses of antibiotics can cure Chlamydia.
In rare instances, Reiter's syndrome, a disease characterized by arthritis and inflammation of the eyes and urethra, can occur as a reaction to a Chlamydia infection. Reiter's syndrome can cause lesions or swelling of the urinary tract and joints.
Who's at Risk for Chlamydia
Anyone who is sexually active can contract Chlamydia, and many people do. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 2.8 million Americans are infected each year. According to the CDC, certain populations, including those with multiple sex partners and sexually active teenage girls, are more at risk. Young women are more prone to the infection because at a young age, the opening to the uterus, called the cervix, is not fully matured.
Defensive Measures Against Chlamydia
The best way to avoid Chlamydia or any sexually transmitted disease is to not have sex. But if you are sexually active, keep relations within the bounds of a long-term, monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner, or at least limit the number of people with whom you have sex. Latex condoms, if used correctly, can reduce the risk of a Chlamydia infection.
Sexually active women in their mid-20s or younger should be screened for the disease each year. Testing is also recommended for pregnant women of any age, as well as older women who have multiple sexual partners or a new partner who has not been tested.
The symptoms associated with genital herpes can be quite painful. Learn how to prevent this uncomfortable sexually transmitted disease on the next page.
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