Bartholin Abscess

What is Chlamydia?
Chlamydia trachomatis is a bacterium which can infect a woman’s reproductive organs.  Such infection may produce no symptoms and no obvious signs while causing significant irreversible damage.  It has only recently (10 years or so) been possible to culture this bacterium in most hospital laboratories.  Before this became possible we found many “sterile” infections of the Fallopian Tubes and irritation in the penis was called “non-specific” meaning that we did not know the germ.

How common is chlamydial Infection?
It is very difficult to say as most people who have an infection do not know it is there.  It is estimated that 2.8 Million infections occur each year in the USA. 

How can I catch chlamydia?
Chlamydia can be transmitted during vaginal, anal, or oral sex.  The greater the number of sex partners, the greater the risk of infection.  Pregnancy is no protection from sexually transmitted disease (STD) and chlamydia can be passed to a baby during the birth.  Eye infection of the newborn (ophthalmia neonatorum) may be caused by chlamydia.  Chlamydia is a leading cause of early infant pneumonia.
Sexual partners will frequently re-infect each other if they are not treated at the same time!

What are the symptoms of chlamydial infection?
Chlamydia is known as a "silent" disease because the majority of infected people have no symptoms.  If symptoms do appear, they often relate to the part infected.  Infection of the urethra (tube that carries urine out of the bladder) in women or men, may give a discharge and/or burning on passing urine.  Infection of the womb, Fallopian tubes and pelvic tissues may give lower abdominal or back pain, fever, painful intercourse, discharge or bleeding between periods….OR none of these.  If the infection is in the rectum or throat,, discharge, pain or bleeding may occur.

What happens if the infection is untreated?
In about 10 to 15% of women with untreated chlamydial infection, it progresses to full blown Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). With formation of filmy adhesions throughout the pelvis, blockage of the Fallopian tubes and sterility. 
Rarely, genital chlamydial infection can cause arthritis that can be accompanied by skin lesions and inflammation of the eye and urethra (Reiter's syndrome).

Can I test myself for chlamydia?
The best testing will be with carefully taken samples from each possible site of infection.  This can be arranged by your gynaecologist or STD Clinic.  The NHS offers free screening to under 25 year olds (National Chlamydia Screening Programme)
Home testing kits are available (see our shop). 

How is chlamydia treated?
Chlamydia can be easily treated and cured with antibiotics. A single dose of azithromycin or a week of doxycycline (twice daily) are the most commonly used treatments.  It is vital that all sexual partners are treated at the same time or there is a high risk of re-infection

The American Centre for Disease Control (CDC) recommends yearly chlamydia testing of all sexually active women age 25 or younger, older women with risk factors for chlamydial infections (those who have a new sex partner or multiple sex partners), and all pregnant women. An appropriate sexual risk assessment by a health care provider should always be conducted and may indicate more frequent screening for some women.

From the Press
One in nine young people under 25 is testing positive in the national screening programme for the sexually-transmitted disease chlamydia, suggesting that the fertility-threatening infection is even more widespread than feared.
The rate is higher in men than women - nearer one in eight of those tested - but few men are putting themselves forward for checks, raising fears that women who are diagnosed and treated with antibiotics are risking reinfection. Only one in four primary care trusts in England is screening young people but half of England's 4.25 million 15-24 -year-olds should be screened within two years, according to government targets.
Many of those infected show no symptoms despite the fact that the disease can lead to severe health problems, particularly in women, and is easily spread through unprotected sex. This prompted the screening programme in England, and other parts of the UK are considering following suit.
Health experts say testing and treating a person for uncomplicated chlamydia may cost £10-£15 a time, as against the £4,000 of one cycle of IVF treatment sought by infertile couples. Tests are offered at family planning services, GP surgeries, higher education institutions, military camps, and a number of other services

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