Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the world, with more than a million cases being treated in the United States per year alone. That equates to approximately 478 cases per 100,000 people. While that may not seem like a lot, with the increased cultural freedom of sexuality over the last few decades, it is more likely that ever than unsafe sex could lead to a sexually transmitted infection. The good thing is that chlamydia, along with all other sexually transmitted diseases, can be entirely prevented via the practice of safe sex and the undertaking of regular, simple health checks.
Here are some of the most common symptoms of chlamydia to look out for:
- A sharp pain when urinating.
- An unusual type of vaginal discharge.
- Pain in the stomach or the pelvis.
- Pain or slight bleeding during sexual intercourse.
- Minor bleeding after a period of sexual intercourse.
- Blood spotting between menstrual periods.
- Heavier periods than you are usually accustomed to experiencing.
- White or cloudy discharge from the tip of the penis.
- Itching or burning sensation in the urethra.
- Pain in one or both testicles.
Though it is common, that does not mean that chlamydia is not a serious infection. If left untreated, chlamydia in women can spread to the womb and lead to a much more severe ailment called pelvic inflammatory disease. This can lead to both infertility and distressing ectopic pregnancies.
In men, untreated chlamydia can cause swelling in the tubes that carry sperm from the testicles and in the testicles themselves, which can lead to multiple issues regarding fertility.
It is also important to note that chlamydia can also become prevalent in the rectum, the eyes and the throat.
- There are two main ways to test for chlamydia: a swab collecting samples from the affected area; and a urine sample provided by the patient.
- The swab is usually taken for women and the urine test taken by men, but in some cases, both sexes may be required to do both.
You should consider getting tested for chlamydia if:
- You are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above.
- You have recently had unprotected sex with a new partner.
- You experienced the splitting of a condom while engaging in sexual activity.
- Either you or your partner has recently had unprotected sex with a new and different partner.
- One of your sexual partners informs you that they have recently discovered they have a sexually transmitted disease.
- You have discovered you are pregnant or have decided to try to become pregnant in the near future.
If you are under 25 years old and sexually active, it is recommended that you get tested for chlamydia at least one a year, as that age group has been cited as the most likely to contract the infection.
Chlamydia tests can be taken at your local health clinic, a specialized sexual health clinic or a contraceptive clinic and chlamydia treatment can be undertaken or referred on at the same places. If you suspect you may have contracted an STI, don’t take a risk by ignoring it – get tested and treated if required.