Chlamydia: The Silent Infection
You could be carrying a silent disease that could make your chances of getting a child futile. With every eight in ten women reporting no symptoms of the disease, doctors fear that Chlamydia could be damaging women's reproductive systems quietly.
Caused by the bacteria, Chlamydia trachomatis, Chlamydia can infect the urethra in men and the cervix and rectum in both men and women. Occasionally, it can also affect other parts of the body, including the throat and eyes.
Doctors say that Chlamydia is a common STD among young women but it most often goes unnoticed because it has no symptoms. It quietly damages the fallopian tubes and is known to cause infertility in some severe cases.
It also affects men who are more likely to report symptoms compared to their female counterparts. At least 80% of women with Chlamydia are unaware that they have it. The sexually transmitted disease is usually through vaginal or anal sex, or other intimate contact with the genitals, mouth or rectal area.
Even if a person has no symptoms, they can still infect others. The gynecologist advices that despite lacking symptoms, a woman should look out for unusual vaginal discharge, or any discharge from the rectum. Painful intercourse, burning sensation or discomfort when passing urine are some of the symptoms of an infection.
Other symptoms are unusual pain or discomfort in the abdomen, pain on the buttocks and legs, swellings, blisters, open sores, warts or a rash in the genital area, on the sexual organs, or in the mouth.
The organism that causes Chlamydia can be found in the mucous membrane of reproductive organs such as the cervix and urethra. It can also exist in the throat or rectum.
It can be spread from person to person; either directly, or by dust particles, flies etc. However if detected early, it can be cured if treated with antibiotics.
It is also common for women with untreated Chlamydia to develop pelvic inflammatory disease, an infection that spreads from the vagina and cervix to the uterus and fallopian tubes.
Other complications include ectopic pregnancies and infertility. Men with Chlamydia may develop epididymitis, an inflammation of the scrotal tubes that can cause sterility.
The disease is also associated with an increased incidence of pre term birth. Babies born to mothers with Chlamydia can be infected during passage through the infected birth canal. This can lead to pneumonia or eye problems such as conjunctives.
Prevention measures include using condoms during sex. As Chlamydia is often asymptomatic in women, it is extremely important to be tested during routine visits to the doctor. It should also be routine for pregnant women or those who plan to have children to be tested for it.
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