Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections. It can be transferred from one person to another through unprotected sexual intercourse (sex without a condom) and is very common in adolescents and young people (read the Hoax).
For this reason, it is recommended that you get tested for chlamydia every year if you change sexual partners.
Disorders caused by chlamydial infection
Most people who have a chlamydial infection do not feel any discomfort and, therefore, do not know they have been infected (read the Hoax). When present, disorders typically include:
- pain when passing urine
- unusual vaginal discharge, secretions from the penis or rectum
- in women, abdominal pain, bleeding during or after intercourse, bleeding even outside the menstrual cycle
- in men, pain and swelling in the testicles
If you suspect you have a chlamydial infection, it is advisable to talk to your GP, a specialist (gynecologist, dermatologist, andrologist, infectious disease specialist) or perform the chlamydia test at an analysis laboratory.
Chlamydia is a "bacterial infection and can be transmitted through:
- vaginal, anal, or oral sex without the use of a condom
- sharing unwashed sex toys or not covered by a new condom each time they are used
- contact between the genitals of the partners (chlamydia can also be transmitted without penetration, orgasm or ejaculation)
- infected semen or vaginal fluid entering the eye (eye infection)
A pregnant woman who has chlamydia could pass it on to her newborn during childbirth.
Chlamydia cannot be transmitted through casual contact, such as kissing and hugging, nor through baths, towels, swimming pools, toilet seats, or cutlery.
Although chlamydia does not usually cause troubling problems and can normally be treated with a short course of antibiotics, it can become a serious infection if not treated in time. In this case, the infection could spread to other parts of the body and create medium- and long-term health problems. Examples include Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), inflammation of the testicles (epididymo-orchitis) and infertility. Sometimes it can even cause reactive arthritis. That's why, if you think about it. that you have chlamydia, it is important to get tested and treated as soon as possible.
The laboratory test to ascertain (diagnose) the presence of chlamydia can be performed through a urine sample or by taking a swab of the secretions present at the vaginal, urethral, pharyngeal or anal level.
Usually, chlamydia can be treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics may be prescribed to be taken for a single day or others to be used for a week.
It is important that the current partner, and all those they have had in the past 6 months, get tested for chlamydia and, if the result is positive, take care to avoid passing the infection on to other people. From the moment you discover you have the infection and up to a week after the end of the treatment, you must avoid having sexual intercourse.
Anyone who has sexual intercourse can be infected with chlamydia. However, the risk is greater with a new partner or if a condom is not used.
To prevent the spread of chlamydia it is recommended:
- use a condom whenever you have vaginal or anal intercourse
- use condoms to cover the penis during oral sex
- use a latex barrier (dental dam) to cover the female genitals during oral sex or when rubbing the female genitals together
- don't share sex toys
- wash or cover sex toys with a new condom every time you use them
In many people, chlamydia does not cause any discomfort.
If they do appear, the disorders usually begin one to three weeks after having unprotected sex with a person infected with chlamydia. Sometimes the disturbances can occur even many months later; in other cases, they may disappear after a few days. However, even in the absence of ailments, the infection remains and can be passed on to other people.
Disorders in women
At least 70% of women infected with chlamydia have no complaints. When they appear, the most common ailments include:
- pain when passing urine
- unusual vaginal discharge
- pain in the abdomen or pelvis
- pain or bleeding during sexual intercourse
- bleeding after intercourse
- bleeding even outside the menstrual cycle
- menstrual periods more abundant than usual
If chlamydia is not treated, it can spread to the reproductive organs and cause severe pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) which is a major cause of ectopic pregnancy and infertility in women.
Disorders in men
At least half of the men with chlamydial infection do not notice any disturbance. Where present, the most common disorders are:
- pain when passing urine
- whitish or watery secretions from the tip of the penis
- burning or itching in the urethra (the tube that carries urine out of the body)
- pain in the testicles
If chlamydia is not treated, the infection can cause swelling in the epididymis (the tubes that carry sperm from the testicles) and testicles. This could affect human fertility.
Chlamydial infection of the rectum, throat or eye
Chlamydia can also infect:
- the rectum, in case of unprotected anal intercourse. It can cause pain and discharge from the rectum
- the throat, in case of unprotected oral sex. It is less common and usually does not cause disturbances (symptoms)
- the eyes, in case of contact with infected semen or vaginal fluid. Can cause eye redness, pain and discharge (conjunctivitis)
When to see your doctor
In the presence of disorders that lead to suspicion of a chlamydial infection, it is advisable to contact your general practitioner, a specialist (gynecologist, dermatologist, andrologist, infectious disease specialist) or a clinic as soon as possible.
Equally necessary is to perform the test, even if you have no complaints, if you suspect you have a "sexually transmitted infection."
If you are sexually active and / or young it is recommended that you get tested for chlamydia every year or every time you change your partner.
The only way to find out if you have been infected with chlamydia is to undergo a laboratory test, regardless of whether you have a disorder or not.
The tests recommended to check for chlamydia are simple, painless and very reliable. There are two types:
- examination of the material taken with a swab gently rubbed inside the vagina, male urethra or inside the anus or throat
Results are usually available after about 7-10 days.If there is a high probability that you have been infected with chlamydia, for example if you have complaints or if the infection has been found in the partner with whom you had sex without a condom, treatment may have started even before you withdraw the results from the In fact, starting therapy as soon as possible reduces the risk of developing serious complications.
The test for chlamydia can be performed at any time but, if it has not been at least two weeks since the last sexual intercourse, your doctor may recommend that you repeat the test a second time as some tests may be negative in the first few days after sex. "infection.
Testing for chlamydia should be done if:
- Disorders attributable to an infection appear from chlamydia or the partner shows them
- did not use a condom during intercourse with a new partner
- the condom broke during sexual intercourse
- you think you may have a "sexually transmitted infection (STI)
- a partner has a sexually transmitted infection (STI)
- you plan or have an ongoing pregnancy
Sexually active and / or young people are advised to get tested for chlamydia every year or, in any case, every time you change your partner because the chances of getting infected are higher.
The test for chlamydia is offered free of charge to pregnant women who have particular risk factors at the first prenatal sight and, if appropriate, is repeated in the third trimester of pregnancy.
Chlamydia testing can be done confidentially at:
- a public facility
- a counseling center
- a private laboratory
The laboratory test for chlamydia can be performed by examining the urine or by taking secretions from the vagina, urethra (in men), throat and anus with a small swab.
If the test results show chlamydia, testing for other sexually transmitted infections is also recommended.
Usually, chlamydia is treated with antibiotics and more than 95% of people, if they take them correctly and follow the doctor's instructions, recover.
The two most commonly prescribed antibiotics for chlamydia are Azithromycin or Doxycycline
Your doctor may also prescribe other antibiotics, such as amoxicillin or erythromycin, if you have an allergy to the above antibiotics or are pregnant or breastfeeding. If your doctor suspects complications from chlamydial infection, he may prescribe the antibiotics for a longer period.
Some people may experience unwanted effects (side effects) during treatment but they are usually mild.
When to start having sex again
It is good to avoid having sexual intercourse, i.e. vaginal, oral or anal sex, even with a condom, during treatment and in the week following the end of therapy. In the event that the partner has also tested positive for chlamydia, he must also undergo antibiotic therapy and sexual intercourse must be interrupted until a week has elapsed from the end of the treatment. Abstention from sexual intercourse is necessary to avoid transmitting the "infection to the partner or to become infected again.
Sometimes, three months after the end of therapy, your doctor may recommend that you undergo another test for chlamydia. This happens in the case of:
- sexual intercourse before the end of the treatment
- not complete cure for forgetting one or more doses of antibiotic or for having taken it incorrectly
- disturbances still present
- care during pregnancy
Laboratory examination and care for partners
The person who discovers that they have chlamydia must warn, or have their doctor warn, both the current partner and those who may have had in the last six months because they will have to undergo the test and, if the result is positive, be treated with antibiotics.
If chlamydia is not treated, it can sometimes spread and cause serious problems.
Complications in men
Inflammation of the testicles
In men, chlamydia can spread to the testicles and epididymis (tubes that carry sperm from the testicles) causing pain and swelling.
Inflammation is usually treated with antibiotics. If left untreated it could compromise fertility.
Chlamydia is the most common cause of sexually acquired reactive arthritis. It consists of inflammation of the joints, and usually appears within the first few weeks of infection. It is more common in men but can also affect women.
At the moment, there is no cure for sexually acquired reactive arthritis, but most people get better in a few months. Meanwhile, treatment with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen can help relieve the ailments.
Complications in women
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
In women, chlamydia can spread from the vagina and ascend to the uterus, ovaries or fallopian tubes. This can cause a condition called Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). PID can cause a number of serious problems, such as:
- difficulty getting pregnant or infertility
- pelvic pain persistent (chronic)
- an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy (the fertilized oocyte implants itself outside the "uterus)
Disorders caused by PID are generally similar to those of chlamydia, including discomfort or pain during intercourse, pain when passing urine, and bleeding even outside the menstrual cycle and after intercourse.
PID is usually treated with antibiotics. The risk of having problems such as infertility is lower if it is treated early, so it is important to go to the doctor as soon as possible if PID-related disorders appear.
Complications of pregnancy
Chlamydia infection in pregnancy needs to be treated right away because it could be passed on to the baby and cause an infection in the eyes (conjunctivitis) or lungs (pneumonia).
If left untreated, it could also increase the risk of the baby being born prematurely (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) or with a low birth weight, or could lead to a miscarriage or stillbirth.
Therefore, in case of suspicion of chlamydial infection, it is necessary to undergo the test quickly.
United against AIDS. HIV and other sexually transmitted infections
Multidisciplinary group “Infectious diseases in obstetrics-gynecology and neonatology”. Diagnostic-assistance pathways in Obstetrics-Gynecology and Neonatology. Chlamydia trachomatis
Sexually Transmitted Infections Working Group (GLIST). Male urethritis: review of the diagnostic process