Diagnosing & Treating Chlamydia

Chlamydia-What It Is And What It Can Do

Chlamydia trachomatis is the proper name of the bacterium that causes one of the most prolific and common of sexually transmitted diseases-chlamydia. This disease has the potential to cause irreparable damage to a woman's reproductive organs. The symptoms are generally very mild or absent. Nevertheless, the serious complications and irreversible damage includes infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease and a greater risk of HIV/AIDS.

Chlamydia is transmitted through vaginal, anal, or oral sex with an infected person. It can also be passed from an infected mother to her baby during vaginal birth. The cervix in teenage girls and young adult women is not fully mature and consequently is more susceptible to infections. Thus, they are at higher risk for STDs if they are sexually active. Since it can be passed orally or anally, men who are sexually active with other men are also at risk for chlamydia.

If chlamydia is left untreated, there is a strong likelihood that the disease will progress into serious reproductive and other health problems. The consequences of the situation can be both short-term and long-term. Because it is considered to be a "silent" disease, the damage can be done before the person is fully aware of it.

The Devastating Effects On Women

In women, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), the spread of infection into the uterus or fallopian tubes and surrounding tissues, can cause permanent damage to the reproductive organs. This then leads to chronic pelvic pain, infertility, and potentially fatal ectopic pregnancies. One of the best ways to tackle this STD is with yearly screening, particularly for women 25 years of age and younger. Older women are also recommended to have screenings every year, since there are more older single women today (divorce, widowed) who are sexually active. Pregnant women should be screened early in their pregnancies in order to catch infection. There is evidence that indicates that babies born to infected mothers are susceptible to chlamydial infections in their eyes and also in the respiratory tracts. This STD can also lead to premature delivery, infant pneumonia and conjunctivitis in newborns.

Diagnosing And Treating Chlamydia

To diagnose chlamydia, a laboratory test is performed on urine or a specimen is collected from the penis of a man or cervix in a woman. It is then analyzed in a lab to determine what type of infection is present. This STD is easily treated and cured with the use of antibiotics. The most commonly used drugs are a single dose of azithromycin or a week long course of doxycycline, taken twice daily. The same treatment can be applied to people who are HIV positive.

Preventing Re-Occurrence Of The Infection

As with gonorrhea, people who have been infected and treated for chlamydia can be reinfected if exposed to the infection again. Multiple infections can greatly increase the risk of serious reproductive health issues, including infertility. To avoid being reinfected, the obvious best method is total abstinence. Barring that, a long-time, monogamous relationship with a person who is not infected is the best. Latex condoms can reduce the risk provided they are used consistently and properly.

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