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CHLAMYDIA

Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

chlamydia

Briefly

It affects both men and women oregardless of age, but young women are more often diagnosed with chlamydia. As long as diagnosed, chlamydia is easy to treat, despite the fact that the infection goes unnoticed in a large population of patients.

Even though that symptoms generally occur within 5 to 20 days from the time of the infection from chlamydia, many people – approximately 75% of women and 50% of men – remain asymptomatic, resulting in the disease evolving undisturbed, threatening them even with infertility.

Symptoms

During the first days, the infections from chlamydia often cause are asymptomatic. The first symptoms usually occur one to three weeks after exposure of the organism to the bacteria. Even at this point, though, symptoms are easy left unnoticed as they are very passing not to mention mild.

The main symptoms are:

• Painful urination
• lower abdominal pain
• vaginal & penis discharge
• pain during coitus in women
• pain in the testicles

When to arrange a Doctor’s appointment:

Chlamydia is caused by bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatics and is most commonly spread through vaginal, oral and anal sex. Moreover, it is possible for a mother to spread chlamydia to her child during delivery. In this case pneumonia or a serious eye infection may be caused in her newborn.

Causes and risk factors

Chlamydia is caused by bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatics and is most commonly spread through vaginal, oral and anal sex. Moreover, it is possible for a mother to spread chlamydia to her child during delivery. In this case pneumonia or a serious eye infection may be caused in her newborn.

Factors that may promote the transmission of chlamydia include:

• young age (below 24 years old)
• large number of sex partners
• lack of consistent condom use
• history of previous STD’s

Complications

If chlamydia is not treated, it may also lead to:

Other sexually transmitted infections such as HIV & Gonorrhoea.

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) which affects the fallopian tubes and the uterus leading to fever and pelvic pain. In more severe cases hospitalization is required for intravenous antibiotics. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease may lead to the damage of ovaries, uterus, and the fallopian tubes, with the cervix, included.

Infection near the testicles- epididymis inflammation is a possible infection as a result of untreated chlamydia. The inflammation refers to the tube beside each testicle.

Prostate gland infection: Chlamydia is possible to spread to prostate gland leading to prostatitis which probably will result in lower abdomen pain, chills and fever, pain during urination and, pain during or after sexual intercourse.

Infections in newborns: Chlamydia infection during pregnancy may lead to a serious eye infection or pneumonia as the bacteria is possible to be passed the unborn child from the vaginal canal.

Infertility: Obstruction and scarring in the fallopian tubes as a result of a chlamydia infection symptomatic or not may lead to infertility.

Reactive arthritis-Reiter’s syndrome which affects the urethra, the joints, and the eyes.

Preparation for your appointment

Α. At your appointment with our doctor you should be prepared to answer the following questions:

  • When did your symptoms begin?
  • Does anything make them better or worse?
  • What medications and supplements do you take regularly?
  • Do you have a new sexual partner?
  • Do you use condom
  • Have you felt pain in the lower abdomen?
  • Do you feel pain during urination?
  • Have you noticed unusual discharge from your genitals?

Β. Questions you may want to ask your doctor:

  • Which examinations should I go through?
  • Should I be tested for other sexually transmitted infections?
  • Should my partner be tested or treated for chlamydia?
  • How long should I abstain from sexual activity?
  • What can I do in terms of prevention in the future?

Tests and Diagnosis

Since the infection from chlamydia often presents with no symptoms but at the same time it poses a serious health risk, it is advisable to do certain screening tests if you are:

Sexually active women age 25 or younger. The rate of chlamydia infection is highest in this group, so a yearly screening test is recommended. Even if you’ve been tested in the past year, get tested when you have a new sex partner.

Pregnant women. You should be tested for chlamydia during your first prenatal exam. If you have a high risk of infection — from changing sex partners or from your regular partner’s possible infection — get tested again later in your pregnancy.

You belong to the high risk group. Frequent chlamydia screening is necessary if you have multiple sex partners or if you don’t use a condom during sexual intercourse. The same applies in case you have medical history of another sexually transmitted disease.

Screening and diagnosis of chlamydia is possible through a test of a specimen from:

  • Swab: For women, the diagnosis of chlamydia is possible through the examination of a culture sample from the discharge of your cervix. This can be done during a routine Pap test. For men, the sample is collected through the urethra. In some cases, the doctor may receive a sample from the anus.
  • Urine test: In certain cases, it is possible to diagnose chlamydia through a urine test

Treatments and medications

Treatment is based on antibiotic medications (of the family of macrolides and tetracyclines), which may be administered as one dose or during a multiple-day dosing regimen. In most cases, the infection resolves within one to two weeks. During that time, you should abstain from sex. It is also essential that your sexual partner or partners also receive treatment even if they have no signs or symptoms. Otherwise, the infection can be passed back and forth between sexual partners. It is also worth noting that having chlamydia in the past and having been treated for it provides no immunity against reinfection in the future.

Prevention

The transmission of chlamydia can be prevented if:

Abstain from sexual activities or have only one sexual partner: Abstinence is definitely the safest method to prevent chlamydia. The next safer method is having a sexual relationship in which both partners are monogamous.
Use of latex condom during each sexual contact: The consistent and proper use of a latex condom during every sexual intercourse is mandatory as it reduces rather eliminating the risk of getting infected.
Get tested regularly: You should advise your doctor in the case of having multiple sexual partners about the frequency rate of getting tested not only for chlamydia but also for other sexual transmitted diseases and infections.
Avoid frequent douching: The good bacteria in a woman’s vagina may decrease in number due to frequent douching, increasing that way the risk of infenctions.

About the author:

Christofer Tzermias

Specialised in the UK (Oxford & London) and in North America (New York & San Diego) in the field of LASER Dermatology, Dr Tzermias, has been providing dermatological state-of-the-art treatments using cutting-edge LASER and Energy based Devices for over 20 years. He has been Director of Interventional and LASER Dermatology Department at the Athens Medical Center for over 18 years and for the last 9 years is the Scientific Director of IQ - Intensive Quality Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery Clinics, which at the 2017 Healthcare Awards won the ‘Innovation Award for Innovative Services’ for their pioneering contributions. Since 2018, IQ Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery Clinics has also been operating in London, UK and in Muscat, Oman. Dr Tzermias is a Fellow of the world-renowned American Society for LASER Medicine and Surgery (ASLMS), a Founder Member of the European Society LASER Dermatology (ESLD), the Vice President of the ‘Open Health Alliance’ and he is also on the Board of Directors of Elitour - Greek Medical Tourism Council.

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