What is Chlamydia?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 18 February 2019
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Chlamydia is one of the most common and potentially dangerous sexually transmitted diseases (STD). It exists in several forms, which may also cause chlamydia conjunctivitis, a leading cause of blindness that is also the most easily cured by prompt antibiotic treatment. As well, certain types can result in lung infections causing pneumonia.

In most cases, this disease is undetected by those affected. There are a few symptoms that may be present. These include in women pain in the stomach, pain during intercourse, frequent urination, and vaginal bleeding or discharge. Men may also have discomfort during urination or a frequent urge to urinate. As well, men may note that their testicles are swollen or red, or that there is penile discharge.

For women, untreated chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, the fallopian tubes may become scarred, and the uterus or ovaries may become infected. Lack of treatment may lead to infertility. In pregnant women, this disease causes risk to the newborn, who may be born with birth defects, or the condition can result in miscarriage or pre-term labor. As well, the newborn may get conjunctivitis from passage through the birth canal resulting in blindness.


In men, chlamydia can infect the reproductive system and cause permanent infertility. A rare disorder called Reiter’s Syndrome results from about 15,000 cases in men a year. Reiter’s causes severe arthritis and especially young men are at risk for the disease.

Prevention is the first line of defense, since many people carry the disease and are unaware of their potential danger to others. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control estimates the disease is contracted by roughly 4 million people per year in the US alone. Their recommendation is to not engage in casual sex, and as well, to engage in sex only with a long-term monogamous partner. Even with a monogamous partner, it is still important to use barrier protection like the male or female condom. However, if this is not used during oral sex or foreplay, chlamydia and other STDs can still be transmitted.

If one intends to begin a new relationship with someone, it is highly recommended that each partner be tested for STDs, including HIV. The test for chlamydia involves analysis of cells from the penis or vagina, usually a very few cells. As well, the physician will do a full gynecological exam on the female. The male will have both his penis and anus examined for any signs of STDS. Though this process seems involved, it might well prevent one from contracting this very serious disease, and help one avoid reproductive difficulties in later life.

Treatment for chlamydia is quite simple and straightforward. Patients are usually prescribed a 2-week dose of antibiotics, and tend to have no complications following successful treatment. However, unsafe sexual practice in the future can lead to contracting it again, so it is ill advised to practice unsafe oral sex or intercourse at any time.


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Post 1

I was recently diagnosed this year with cervicitis which came from chlamydia. My boyfriend says he has been faithful and I know I have been. I have been tested while in this relationship with negative results but all the same symptoms.

Before I had insurance last year, I was taking antibiotics left and right without getting tested, thinking I had a urinary tract infection or bacterial vaginitis, not to mention for a sinus infection and pneumonia. Is it possible that I could have had chlamydia from my previous boyfriend but it has been suppressed by those meds and did not show up on a previous test? *Credible sources that I have found is what drove me to ask this question*

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