The Diagnosis and Precautions Against Chlamydia
Sexually transmitted infections or STIs are infections that people acquire while having sexual encounters with an infected partner. One of the most prevalent and curable sexually transmitted infections in the United States is chlamydia. (textbook) Chlamydia is normally spread through sexual acts. (womenshealth.gov, 2019) These sexual acts have fluids that are involved such as cum, pre-cum, and vaginal discharge. These fluids are what pass chlamydia from one person to the next. (Planned parenthood.org, 2019) These sexual acts include vaginal sex for women and oral and anal sex for both men and women. (womenshealth.gov, 2019) Chlamydia is often times diagnosed with its partner infection gonorrhea. Although the rates of infection for gonorrhea have stayed stable, the rates for chlamydia have gone up increasingly. (textbook)
Most often men and women do not know that they are infected with chlamydia until a few weeks after they have had sex with an infected partner. (CDC, 2016) This is why chlamydia is often referred to as a “silent” infection. (womenshealth.gov, 2019) Several weeks after being infected the symptoms women may start to notice are painful urination, fever, bleeding between normal periods, nausea, lower back pain, pain while having sex, vaginal discharge, and abdominal pain. (womenshealth.gov, 2019) If chlamydia is left untreated it can lead to other health problems in women. These health problems may include trouble getting pregnant (sterility), trouble staying pregnant (premature birth), pregnancies occurring outside of the uterus in the fallopian tubes, and damage to the female sex organs. (Cleveland Clinic.org, 2015) Another health problem that chlamydia can cause for women is a disease called pelvic inflammatory disease or PID for short. (CDC, 2016) Pelvic inflammatory disease is what occurs when chlamydia is left untreated for a while and it starts to move to other parts of the female sex organ. Pelvic inflammatory disease is also what causes the problems of getting and staying pregnant. (CDC, 2016) Any sexually active woman that are under the age of 25 years old should get tested once a year for chlamydia along with other sexually transmitted diseases and infections. (CDC, 2016)
Several weeks after being infected the symptoms men may start to notice are painful urination, swelling in one or both testicles, pain in one or both testicles, and discharge. (Planned parenthood.org, 2019) No matter where a man is infected with chlamydia his symptoms will most likely to show up in the morning. (Planned parenthood.org, 2019) Both men and women can get chlamydia in their anus. This usually occurs from having anal sex. Symptoms may include: diarrhea, itching of anus, pain or swelling in the anus, discharge, bleeding and swelling around the anus. (Planned parenthood.org, 2019) Chlamydia can also infect men and women’s eyes. Symptoms of infected eyes may include redness of the eye, itching in or around the eye, and discharge. (Planned parenthood.org, 2019)
Anyone that is having unprotected sexual relationships is at risk for getting chlamydia. (Planned parenthood.org, 2019) This is because it is one of the most prevalent sexually transmitted infections, and most people don’t even know they have it. (Planned parenthood.org, 2019) Younger men and women however between the ages of 14-24 years old are at a higher risk for contracting chlamydia. (Planned parenthood.org, 2019) Their higher risk comes from their biological factors, and the behaviors that they have as young people. (Planned parenthood.org, 2019) These behaviors could be as simple as not using a condom, having multiple partners, and having the attitude that this won’t happen to them.
Chlamydia is diagnosed by either a urine test or a swab test. The most common way to test for chlamydia is the urine test. When a possibly infected person goes to the doctors they will have them pee into a cup, and then the urine specimen will be sent to the lab to be tested for chlamydia. The second less common way to test for chlamydia is a swab test. When a possibly infected person goes to the doctors they will use a cotton swab to take the sample they need. They may take this sample from the vagina, cervix, rectum, throat, or eye. Once they have the sample they will send the swab to the lab to have it tested for chlamydia. (womenshealth.gov, 2019) Test results usually take a few days (2-3) to come back from the lab.
Chlamydia is a treatable sexually transmitted infection. It is treated with oral antibiotic medications. Both infected partners will need to be treated at the same time. After treatment, the symptoms should start to go away in about a week. Even after the symptoms have gone away the medication should still be taken until it is completely gone. (Cleveland Clinic.org, 2015) The two most common oral medications given for chlamydia are a single dose of Azithromycin or Doxycycline twice a day for seven days. Other oral medications that could be given are Erythromycin four times a day for a week, Levofloxacin once a day for a week, or Ofloxacin two times a day for a week. When being treated for an infection you should never take someone else’s medications. However, in some situations in order to get both infected partners treated a doctor may give the infected person being seen extra pills or an extra prescription for their sexual partner or partners. This form of treatment is referred to as expedited partner therapy of EPT for short. (CDC, 2016)
Men and women that are infected with chlamydia should tell their current sexual partners and any sexual partners that they have had sex within the previous 3 months that they were infected. This is extremely important because of the fact that chlamydia can go without showing any signs and symptoms. Women primarily will not have symptoms and therefore will not go for treatment unless told by a sexual partner that they were infected. This is extremely dangers for women because of the fact that if left untreated chlamydia can leave them with irreversible damage. (Cleveland Clinic.org, 2015)
The only 100% way to not get chlamydia is to not have any type of sexual relations (anal, oral, or vaginal sex). However, if that is not an option male latex condoms are the best prevention from getting a sexually transmitted infection. The condom should be placed on the penis before it touches any part of the body. This is because ejaculation does not need to happen in order for chlamydia to be transferred. The second best option for prevention is getting tested. Before becoming sexual with someone or having sexual relations both partners should be tested and the results can be reviewed and talked about beforehand. That way if there is an issue with either partner treatment can occur before the other partner is infected. Getting tested yearly is important for both people involved. A third option is for both men and women to limit the number of sexual partners that they have. The more sexual partners a person has the greater their chance of being exposed to a sexually transmitted disease and or infections become. (womenshealth.gov, 2019)
Chlamydia is one of the United States most sexually transmitted infections. Although young people are more prone to getting it the infection can happen to anyone that is sexually active. Even though it is one of the most transmitted infections among sexually active people it is also one of the easiest to treat with oral antibiotics. However, some STIs are becoming resistant to some antibiotic treatments, and therefore they are becoming harder to treat. (Cleveland Clinic.org, 2015) Some of these resistances may be due to infected people not finishing their antibiotics as prescribed, or overuse of one time of medication when not truly needed. Chlamydia is also an easily preventable infection by just using a male latex condom. All in all, if a person does not wish to contract any sexually transmitted diseases or infections the best option for them is to abstain from having any sort of sexual relations.
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