Chlamydia

Chlamydia is the most frequently reported sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the USA. The disease is caused by bacterium called Chlamydia trachomatis (one of the species in the bacterial genus Chlamydia that is found in humans). The name is pronounced kluh-mid-ee-uh and it comes from the Greek word that means "cloak". Chlamydia trachomatis can damage a woman's reproductive organs, which is the reason why women should deal with the problem as soon as possible. Symptoms of chlamydia are often undetectable. They might be mild or absent, but the bacteria can cause some serious complications that result in irreversible damage to the reporductive organs, including infertility. This may occur before a woman ever recognizes a problem. Women are often reinfected if their sex partners do not get the right type of treatment. Between 50%-75% of all women infected with chlamydia have no symptoms and do not know that they run the risk of developing a serious health condition. Men are not immune from chlamydia. In infected men, the disease can cause discharge from the penis. The bacteria can affect other parts of the human body. For instance, chlamydia infection of the eye is the most common cause of blindness.

Chlamydia trachomatis species can cause the following conditions:

  • Cervicitis
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Fitz-Hugh-Curtis syndrome
  • Lymphogranuloma venereum
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Pneumonia in infants

How common is Chlamydia

U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey reports that more than 2 million people (age 14-39) are infected with Chlamydia in the United States. In 2006, over one million chlamydia cases were reported to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Under-reporting is substantial due to the fact that a large number of infected individuals are unaware of their infections and do not seek testing.

How do people get Chlamydia?

Any sexually active person can be infected with chlamydia during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Since there are often no symptoms, infected people may unknowingly spread chlamydia among their partners. The opening to the uterus of teenage girls and young women is probably more susceptible to infection and that’s why they are at particularly high risk for infection. Chlamydia can also be passed from an infected mother to her baby during childbirth. Babies born to infected mothers can develop pneumonia or conjunctivitis.