What is Chlamydia?
Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted infection. It is caused by bacteria, Chlamydia trachomatis.
'Chlamys' means cloak. This STI (sexually transmitted infection) gets its name because it hides inside other cells while it divides, subdivides and spreads.
Many people do not realise they have chlamydia, until it is too late and they become infertile (unable to have a baby).
How does chlamydia affect males?
Urethritis (inflammation of the urine tube) is the main effect that males may notice.
Symptoms (signs) of this can be:
- A thick white discharge (body fluid) which is sometimes itchy or smelly.
- There can be burning on urination (peeing)
- Some people urinate (peeing) often.
N.B. not everyone will have symptoms
What happens if chlamydia is not treated in males? - The epididymis (the bit of the testicles where the sperms are stored) can get
inflamed and this can lead to the male becoming sterile (unable to father a child).
- The male can infect his sexual partners in the future.
How does chlamydia affect females?
The most common place to be affected is the cervix. This is inside the female's body and she will not necessarily know that Chlamydia is there.
- Cervicitis is the usual effect of this infection and a thick mucus and pus-like discharge are symptoms (signs) of this.
Other symptoms can include:
- Lower back pain.
- Soreness in the pelvic area.
- Abdominal pain in long term infection
- Urethritis with the same symptoms that affect males (see above)
What happens if Chlamydia is not treated in females?
Chlamydia can cause the fallopian tubes (the tubes that carry the egg to the womb) to become inflamed. This increases the risk of an ectopic pregnancy.
(ectopic means that the egg sticks in the tube and it starts to grow there instead of in the womb).
- Chlamydia can cause the fallopian tubes to become completely blocked which
- The female can infect her sexual partners
How is chlamydia diagnosed by doctors? By taking a swab from the female's cervix.
By taking a urine sample from the male.
How is chlamydia treated? Chlamydia can be easily treated by antibiotics.