Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors
Chlamydia is a sexually transmitteddisease, or STD, caused by the organism Chlamydiatrachomatis. Sexually transmitted disease refers to any contagiousdisease transmitted from one person to another during sexual contact. In men,the infection normally involves the urethra. The urethra is the tube thatcarries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body.
What is going on in the body?
The organism Chlamydia trachomatis causes chlamydiainfection. It infects the cells and causes a number of changes. The organism isusually passed from one partner to another during sexual intercourse.Irritation and inflammation of the man’s urethra from the infection oftencauses symptoms. Other areas of the body, including the rectum and the throat,can also become infected with chlamydia.
What are the causes and risks of the infection?
The organism that causes a chlamydia infection is usually passedfrom one partner to another during sexual intercourse. Any other intimatecontact of the genitals, mouth, rectal area, or the sharing of sexual toys cantransmit the organism from one individual to another.
A man’s risk of chlamydia infection is increased if he has more thanone sexual partner.
Symptoms & Signs
What are the signs and symptoms of the infection?
Sometimes, a chlamydia infection of the urethra has no symptoms. When present,symptoms may include the following:
Chlamydia infections of the throat usually cause a sore throat.
Following are symptoms that can be caused by chlamydia infections of therectum:
Diagnosis & Tests
How is the infection diagnosed?
A healthcare provider will suspect chlamydia if a man haswatery discharge from the penis or a burning sensation when urinating. Symptomsof rectal pain and rectal discharge frequently are symptoms of chlamydiain those who have anal sex.
A complete examination of the appropriate area is done to look for dischargeand other infections. A cotton swab is often used to take a sample of anydischarge present. If no discharge is seen, a cotton swab may be used to swabthe inside of the urethra, rectum, or throat. The swab is then sent to the labfor testing. This can help determine whether there is an infection, and if so,which organisms are causing it.
Prevention & Expectations
What can be done to prevent the infection?
Several safer sex practices can help prevent the spread ofchlamydia infection. Malecondoms and femalecondoms provide some protection. Single partner relationships aresafer than sexual interaction with multiple partners.
Any new partners should be asked about their sexual history and should betested for sexually transmitteddisease. Sexual contact should be postponed until the tests show noinfection in the partner.
What are the long-term effects of the infection?
Chlamydia infection can cause acute epididymitis, orinflammation of a structure attached to the testes. Rectal chlamydia can causenarrowing of the rectum or ulcers in the rectum.
What are the risks to others?
If a chlamydia infection is not treated, a man can pass it to any sexualpartner. This is true even if he does not have symptoms. Chlamydia infectionsin females can lead to cancer of thecervix, infertility, and ectopicpregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy is one in which the fertilized eggimplants outside the uterus.
Treatment & Monitoring
What are the treatments for the infection?
Taking antibiotics usually cures the infection. Normal healing may still leavesome scar tissue. Sexual partners should also be treated. Sometimes acombination of antibiotics is used for 7 to 10 days. Antibiotics used to treatchlamydia infections include azithromycin, doxycycline, ofloxacin,sulfisoxazole, and erythromycin.
What are the side effects of the treatments?
Antibiotics may cause stomach upset, rash, or allergic reactions.
What happens after treatment for the infection?
It may take days or weeks for symptoms to go away. This is true even whentreatment is successful. Sometimes, an individual can quickly become infectedagainif his or her sexual partner has not been treated at the same time.In some cases, chlamydia infections do not clear up. This can be due toorganisms that are resistant to antibiotics.
How is the infection monitored?
After a course of antibiotics has been taken successfully, the healthcareprovider may repeat the culture of material from the infected area. If the testis positive, it usually means reinfection has occurred. This is particularlylikely if a sexual partner has not been treated or did not complete treatment.
Being screened for chlamydia every year, or any time there is a new sexualpartner, is a good practice. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reportedto the healthcare provider.
Article type: xmedgeneral