Chlamydia

By the end of the third quarter of 2011, up to the end of September, there were 4133 cases of Chlamydia reported in Ireland. It is most common in young adults.

How does one get Chlamydia?

Chlamydia can be transmitted during vaginal, anal or oral sex.

It can also be passed from mother to baby before, during, or shortly after birth. Infants who become infected around birth frequently develop conjuntivitis and pneumonia, which untreated can result in chronic pulmonary disease including asthma.

What are the signs and symptoms of Chlamydia?

Chlamydia is often known as a ‘silent’ disease because many infected persons have no symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they usually appear within 1 to 3 weeks after exposure.

In women, Chlamydia initially infects the urethra (urine canal) and the cervix. Women with symptoms might have an abnormal vaginal discharge, or a burning sensation when urinating. If the infection spreads from the cervix to the fallopian tubes (the tubes that carry the egg to the uterus) some women have no symptoms, while others complain of lower abdominal pain, low back pain, fever, pain during intercourse, or bleeding between menstrual periods. This is termed pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and occurs in 10-15% of women with untreated Chlamydial infection.

Men with signs and symptoms of Chlamydia might have a discharge from the penis. The discharge is usually clear or greyish. Men may describe a burning sensation on urinating, and have burning or itch at the opening of the penis (meatus). Pain or swelling of the testicle from infection, called orchitis, may rarely occur.

Men or Women who have receptive anal sex may get rectal Chlamydia, which can causes rectal pain, discharge or bleeding. Chlamydia is also found in the throats of men and women who have had oral sex with an infected partner. This may rarely cause a sore throat or pain when swallowing solids particularly.

How is Chlamydia diagnosed?

Chlamydia is diagnosed by taking a swab from the cervix, throat, rectum, or by testing a urine sample in men where appropriate.

The first few millilitres of urine should be provided (first void urine) and men should not urinate for at least 2 hours before providing the sample. The result should be available from the laboratory within a week.

How is Chlamydia treated?

Chlamydia can be easily treated with antibiotics.

All sex partners should be tested and treated even if they have no symptoms.

Is there any aftercare required following Chlamydia treatment?

All persons with symptomatic Chlamydia should be re-tested at 4 weeks to ensure cure and should abstain from unprotected sex until given the ‘all clear’.

How is Chlamydia prevented?

Chlamydia is best prevented by consistent and correct latex male condom use.

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