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Chlamydia infections again!


I have decided to address the chlamydia issue again, as I see too many sexually active young people with chlamydia infection every week and the first question they ask is: “Doc, what is chlamydia?” Most of them have never heard the word chlamydia. They usually ask again: “Doc, what was that? Clammy what?”{{more}}

Chlamydia is the fastest growing and most common sexually transmitted bacterial infection. As a sexually transmitted infection, it is second in incidence and prevalence only to herpes simplex virus, which does not cause as many problems as chlamydia. Besides, because 75% of women and 50% of men may be asymptomatic (they do not know that they have it) it is described as the silent epidemic. To recap, you get it from sex and you may not know that you have it.

Women who have symptoms (only 25% or 1:4) may experience a variety of non-specific symptoms 1-3 weeks after exposure through sexual contact. These include lower abdominal and back pain, burning on passing urine or passing urine frequently, menstrual irregularities, pelvic pain, painful sexual intercourse and, sometimes, joint aches and pains. Symptoms more specific to the genital tract in women include a vaginal discharge, pelvic inflammatory disease, inability to get pregnant, recurrent spontaneous abortions and ectopic pregnancy. The infected pregnant woman may experience pre-term labour and an increased risk of a threatened abortion. Besides, she may pass it on to her child at birth in the form of a chest infection (pneumonia) or an eye infection, which can lead to blindness, if undiagnosed or untreated. The most common acquired cause of infertility is infection (PID) and scarring caused by chlamydia. Chlamydia may cause tubal blockage in women if untreated or undiagnosed. This can lead to infertility or inability to get pregnant.

In men, chlamydia causes symptoms in only half of those infected. The other half, like three-quarters of the women have no symptoms. Men may experience varying degrees of itching and burning in the urine passaged, a discharge from the urine passage, which is usually mucoid (slimy) or testicular pain and swelling. Rarely, there may be fever, joint aches and pain and a discharge from the urine passage. Chlamydia infection can also lower men’s sperm count and cause infertility in men. Chronic untreated or undiagnosed infections may cause scarring in the urine passage with an inability to pass urine.

Without antibiotics, the body will get rid of 50% in a year, 80% in two years and 90% in 3 years. However, without antibiotics, the body is more likely to heal with scar tissue, with increased risk of infertility in women and men and urine passage tightness in men. In summary, chlamydia may cause infertility in men and women and blockage of the urine passage in men.

Chlamydia has become so rampant world-wide that the CDC and WHO and various other health organizations worldwide have recommended that all sexually active women under 25 be tested for chlamydia as well as all pregnant women, symptomatic men and women over 25 and all individuals with a high risk sexual lifestyle. I test all the above, as well as sexually active young women with unexplained pelvic pain or recurrent “bladder infections”. I also test all sexually active men and women with unexplained traces of blood or infection cells in the urine.

Chlamydia can be easily treated with azithromycin, doxycycline, erythromycin or some of the floro-quinolones. The regimes differ depending on the antibiotic and the complications involved. I hope this article reminds us of the need to use condoms or to stay with one faithful partner. High-risk behavior always has high-risk consequences, hence the reason why next week I shall be looking at the male sexual behavior.

For comments or question contact:

Dr. Rohan Deshong

Tel: (784) 456-2785