Chlamydia is caused by a bacterium that is transmitted by unprotected sexual activities with an infected person, and it can infect both men and women. The STD can cause irreversible damage to the reproductive organs of women, leading to PID (pelvic inflammatory disease), and in some cases, causes ectopic pregnancy.
When left untreated, Chlamydia will permanently damage the fallopian tubes which may lead to infertility in woman. In pregnant women, it can lead to premature births or miscarriage; moreover the infection could be spread to the baby during birth. The infected baby may suffer from eye infections, pneumonia or even blindness.
Symptoms of Chlamydia
Most of the women are infected as the symptoms are absent in men, though they may carry the infection and pass it on their partners. Chlamydia is a silent attacker, as the symptoms go undetected in 1/3rd of the women. Even if the symptoms are present, they are not visible for weeks after the infection.
The bacteria first infect the urethra and cervix, before spreading to other reproductive organs in the woman. Rarely there have been cases where the infection is severe enough to cause pus filled abscess on the localized area leading to major surgery to remove the pus and infection. The common signs and symptoms of Chlamydia in women are:
- Change in vaginal discharge with foul smell
- Painful urination
- Bleeding between regular menstrual cycle
- Heavy bleeding during menstruation
- Pain and bleeding during sex
- Lower abdominal pain
- Itching and burning sensation around vagina
For women who have had anal or oral sex, the infection could spread to the rectum, throat or eyes. The infected semen can cause conjunctivitis in the woman if it comes in contact with her eyes. Chlamydia infection in rectum causes rectal bleeding, discharge, pain and irritation, where as the infected eye will be watery, swollen with pain and irritation. The infection of the throat does not have any signs or symptoms in most of the cases.
Tests and Detection
The most common tests conducted to detect Chlamydia in women are the swab test or the urine test. In the swab test, the sample is collected from the cervix of the woman by using a speculum or the patient is allowed to self collect the vaginal swabs. For those who prefer non-invasive procedure, urine sample are collected and then tested for bacterial infection. The samples are then analyzed in the laboratory for confirmation of Chlamydia.
Starting off with the treatment
Like any other bacterial infection, Chlamydia can be treated with antibiotics. It is advised to abstain from any form of sexual activities for a week after commencement of treatment for its effectiveness and also to prevent the partner from infection. The antibiotic Azithromycin is given in single dose whereas Doxycycline is given as 2 capsules per day for a week.
Recurrence of the infection can have more drastic effect on the reproduction function of the woman. Hence, it is very important to complete the treatment and take necessary precaution to prevent infection after treatment.