Chlamydia

What is Chlamydia?
Chlamydia is the most common bacterial sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the US. There are about 2.8 million Chlamydia infections each year in the US alone. In 2011, there were 933 cases of Chlamydia in Chester County.

How do people get Chlamydia?
Chlamydia can be transmitted through vaginal, anal, or oral sex. It can also be passed to a baby during natural birth delivery from the infected mother.

Any sexually active person can get infected with Chlamydia. The greater number of sex partners, the higher risk for infection. Young females are at high risk for getting Chlamydia, because their cervix is not completely matured and is more prone to infection.

What are the symptoms?
Chlamydia is known as the "silent" disease because most infected people have no symptoms. In cases where symptoms are present, they usually occur 1-3 weeks after exposure.

Symptoms in women include abnormal discharge and painful or burning sensation when urinating. If the infection spreads to the Fallopian tubes, some women may experience back pain, fever, nausea, lower abdominal discomfort, pain during sex, and even bleeding between periods.

Symptoms in men include abnormal discharge from penis, painful feeling when urinating, itching and burning sensation around head of penis.

Men and women who have receptive anal intercourse may get Chlamydia infection in the rectum, which can cause bleeding, discharge or rectal pain. Chlamydia infection can also occur in the throats of person who have oral sex with an infected partner.

What can happen if Chlamydia is not treated?
For 10-15% of infected women, the infection may lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). This silent infection in women can lead to damage of the reproductive organs resulting in difficulty getting pregnant in later years.

Most men do not exhibit symptoms of Chlamydia. In rare instances, the infection can cause pain, fever and possibly infertility.

How is Chlamydia diagnosed?
Chlamydia can be diagnosed by testing urine, or from a specimen collected from the penis or cervix. Visit our STD clinic page for information on where to get tested.

What is the treatment?
Chlamydia is easily treated with antibiotics. Persons with Chlamydia should abstain from sexual intercourse until after treatment is finished so as not to spread the disease to partners.

It is very important that any sexual partners be tested and treated to avoid re-infection. Multiple infections increase a woman's risk of serious reproductive health complications, including infertility.

How can it be prevented?
The safest and surest way to avoid any sexually transmitted disease is to abstain from sex, or to be in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who is not infected.

Proper and consistent use of a latex condom may help reduce risk.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends testing for:
  • all sexually active women age 25 and younger
  • all pregnant women
  • women over age 25 who have multiple sex partners or a new sex partner
Any genital symptoms such as discharge or burning during urination or unusual sore or rash should be a signal to stop having sex and to see a doctor immediately. If a person has been diagnosed and treated for an STD, he or she should notify all recent sex partners so they can see a health care provider and be treated. This will reduce the risk that the sex partners will become re-infected. The person and all sex partners must avoid sex until treatment is complete and sex partners no longer have symptoms.

GET TESTED - visit our STD clinic page