The Facts About Chlamydia

What is Chlamydia?

Chlamydia infection is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis.

 

How common is Chlamydia?

Chlamydia is the most common notifiable STD in the U.S. There were over 1.5 million new cases reported in 2020, but most experts agree that due to many people having no symptoms, there are much higher new infections because not all get reported.1 Chlamydia occurs in both men and women, but reported cases are highest among adolescents and young adults ages 15-24.

How is Chlamydia spread?

Chlamydia infection can be spread through vaginal, anal, or oral sex. It is more easily transmitted from male to female. Mothers of newborn infants can transmit the infection during childbirth. People treated for Chlamydia can get it again if exposed.

Does Chlamydia cause symptoms?

Chlamydia is commonly referred to as a “silent” infection due to most infected persons having no symptoms or abnormal exam findings.2 Without symptoms, infected people can spread the Chlamydia infection to their sexual partners without knowing it. Yearly screening tests are recommended for people at high risk for Chlamydia, even when they do not have symptoms. High risk people include:

1. Sexually active females under 25 years of age

2. Females over 25 years whose sexual practices put them at risk for infection

3. All pregnant females

4. People with discharge, painful urination, or unusual sores or rash

5. Men who have sex with men

 

What are the symptoms of Chlamydia?

Some people do get symptoms when they have a Chlamydia infection. Symptoms of Chlamydia in women can include inflammation of the cervix, abdominal or pelvic pain, abnormal vaginal discharge, and painful urination. Urethral infections in males may cause discharge from the penis, painful urination, and/or unilateral testicular pain, tenderness, or swelling. If the Chlamydia infection involves the anus and rectum, then rectal pain, discharge, and bleeding in both males and females can occur.

Are there any treatments available for Chlamydia?

Chlamydia infection can be easily treated with antibiotics regardless of the site of infection. Sex partners should also be treated and sexual activity should stop during the treatment. Not receiving treatment and treatment delay can lead to serious health problem. Treatment does not reverse existing complications.

What complications can result from Chlamydia?

If left untreated, Chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID occurs when the infection spreads to the uterus or fallopian tubes. PID occurs in about 10-15% of women who do not receive treatment. PID is associated with long-term problems including chronic pelvic pain, ectopic pregnancy, and infertility.

Another possible complication of Chlamydia infection is the spread of the infection from a mother to her baby. If the mother is infected, newborn infants may acquire diseases like conjunctivitis and pneumonia at the time of childbirth. It can even cause pre-term delivery.

Does Chlamydia affect the spread of HIV?

Chlamydia infection may increase the chance of getting HIV if exposed.

Can Chlamydia be prevented?

Yes; Chlamydia can be prevented by refraining from sexual activity until a person is in a lifelong, mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner. Mothers should be screened for Chlamydia infection during pregnancy to prevent the spread of Chlamydia infection to their babies

 

References:

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance, 2020. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/std/statistics/2020/overview.htm#Chlamydia Accessed: May 2022.

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chlamydia, Facts & Brochures, April 2022. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/std/chlamydia/stdfact-chlamydia-detailed.htm#:~:text=Chlamydia%20spreads%20through%20vaginal%2C%20anal,or%20pneumonia%20in%20some%20infants. Accessed: May 2022.

The information presented on this website is intended for general education purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional counseling, medical, or prenatal care.

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