Essential facts about the STD you may already have

Chlamydia is a very common STD caused by a bacterial infection. Many of you may already have it and not know it as it can present with no symptoms at all. This means that it is underreported and although it is already a very common infection it could be even more prevalent. The danger is that it can have serious long term health consequences, especially for young women, as it can cause infertility in women. Fortunately when found it can be easily treated, so let’s have a look at some of the symptoms, long term effects, transmission, prevention and treatment.

Symptoms vary between men and women. In women common symptoms include pain during intercourse, bleeding after intercourse or between periods, foul smelling discharge and tummy pain. In men symptoms include painful or swollen testicles and discharge from the penis.

Some of the long term health effects are a severe bacterial infection that includes a high temperature treated in hospital and conjunctivitis. Left untreated it can cause a reproductive tract infection in women that causes scarring of the fallopian tubes and can leave women finding it difficult or unable to conceive. In men and women it can also cause arthritis when left untreated.

Transmission between sexual partners is very easy and can happen during unprotected sexual contact. It cannot be contracted through casual day to day contact, so it can only be caught through coming into contact with another person’s genitals, getting infected vaginal fluid or semen into the eye or sharing a sex toy that has not been cleaned. It can also be transmitted to a baby during child birth and has serious consequences for newborn babies such as eye infections and pneumonia.

The people most at risk from a new infection are young sexually active women, but any sexually active person can catch it. To prevent catching this and any other STD you should use a barrier method during oral, anal or vaginal intercourse, such as a condom or dam. As it cannot be caught during casual contact abstinence from all forms of sexual contact would also be a prevention method.

All sexually active people should be tested for a range of STDs annually and in the case of Chlamydia this is more important for young and pregnant women. Regular testing means that if you have no symptoms you can be treated and you will not spread it to your sexual partner. Treatment is a simple course of antibiotics and it is important that you do not have sexual intercourse with an infected person during this time to avoid reinfection.

Chlamydia is the STD you might already have, so regular testing is the only way to be sure you are not transmitting it to your sexual partners. It is easily treated and the early symptoms are not severe, but without treatment the long term effects can be serious. It is a very common infection and you cannot tell who might have it, so the best method to prevent infection is to use a condom or avoid sexual contact.