There are about 3 million cases of chlamydia infections in the U.S. each year!
Most cases are incidental findings, because women do not seek medical advice or care because the disease does not manifest itself.
If some time ago the first place among sexually transmitted diseases was occupied by gonorrhea, nowadays the leading problem is chlamydia!
Strictly speaking, the term "chlamydia", although used quite often, is incorrect. According to the International Classification of Diseases, we should say "chlamydia infection". Because this very infection may affect different organs and manifest itself differently in the body. The most common manifestation is infection of the urogenital tract (or urogenital chlamydia). Chlamydia is often present in the body in combination with other infections: trichomoniasis, gardnerellosis, ureaplasmosis. Therefore, when diagnosed with even one of these infections, doctors usually recommend testing for chlamydia as well.
Chlamydia can be called tricky and insidious microorganisms. They may be present in the body, but they show themselves very weakly or not at all for a long time.
In 70-80% of cases, chlamydia in women is asymptomatic!!
The person may notice some mild symptoms, but not pay much attention to them. The result is that precious time is lost when the diagnosis is already made.
This state of affairs causes the number of people infected with chlamydia to increase steadily.
How can one become infected with chlamydia infections?
The most frequent way of infection is unprotected sexual contact with an infected partner. The development of an inflammatory process in the genitourinary organs is preceded by the "sticking" of the pathogens to the epithelial cells: in men – the mucous membrane of the urethra and the rectum, in women – the cervical canal, urethra and rectum.
Please note: Chlamydia cannot be transmitted via common utensils, shared bathtubs or toilets. You cannot get infected in a swimming pool, sauna or gym.
The reason for this is that chlamydia cannot live outside the human body!
A person has no natural resistance to chlamydia and it does not develop after an infection and cure. So you can always be infected when you have sex with a new partner without using a condom.
Manifestations of a chlamydia infection
Your gynecologist may suspect you have a chlamydia infection if you have complaints of:
- Vaginal discharge (mucous or mucopurulent);
- Mild intermittent pain in the genitals and lower abdomen;
- Itching, burning in the genital area;
- Lower abdominal pain, painfulness during urination and sexual intercourse;
- Intermenstrual bleeding;
- Bleeding from the vagina after intercourse
All this occurs against a background of general weakness, lethargy, fatigue. Slight increase in body temperature may occur.
The incubation period of chlamydia is from 7 to 14 days. The first symptoms can be noticed after about 2 weeks.
Important! If you have the above symptoms, if you feel that there is something wrong with your genitals, you should consult a gynecologist. Do not trust express tests for chlamydia, which are sold at the drugstore and allow you to test at home. Their credibility is very low!
What is the danger of chlamydia? What are the consequences??
The consequences of chlamydia can be as follows:
- Pelvic adhesions
- ectopic pregnancy
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Post-infectious reactive arthritis
As mentioned above, a chlamydial infection is very often asymptomatic, especially at the beginning of the disease. In addition, chlamydiae are not easy to spot and get rid of. Meanwhile, developing in the human body, these microorganisms are the root cause of many chronic diseases and can significantly reduce the immune system, which opens the door for new infections and diseases.
Regarding reproductive function, there is the following chain: chlamydia – inflammation of the genitourinary organs – adhesions – infertility. If a pregnant woman is infected with chlamydia, the fetus can become intrauterine infected. A baby can also become infected during natural childbirth, which is likely to lead to complications such as pneumonia and conjunctivitis.
Doctors say that chlamydia is an ascending infection. This means that it gradually affects the organs, as if moving from the bottom to the top after infection. That is, first the infection travels to the genital organs, and then to the urethra, bladder, uterus, fallopian tubes. And the higher it rises, the more serious the complications and consequences.
Chlamydia can cause diseases such as cystitis, adnexitis (inflammation of the appendages), pelvioperitonitis (inflammation of the pelvic peritoneum), salpingitis (inflammation of the fallopian tubes). The latter disease poses a serious threat to a woman's health and very often requires surgical intervention. You can read more about this in the section "Inflammatory diseases of the uterine appendages".
Treatment of Chlamydia Infection
The high sensitivity of chlamydiae to a number of antibiotics should at first sight make the treatment fast and effective. Unfortunately, however, clinical experience demonstrates that this is not the case.
After treatment, a clinical improvement is possible, but relapses after a certain time may occur. Furthermore, a chlamydial infection is often combined with other sexually transmitted organisms (gonorrhea, mycoplasma, ureaplasma, gardnerella, etc.).).
Currently there is a research devoted to the creation of such effective drugs that would allow to treat concomitant infections at the same time.
How do you know if you have been cured of chlamydia as a result of treatment??
Four weeks after the end of treatment, test for chlamydia in cell culture from the urethra and cervical canal. PCR method often gives false positive results. Another effective method is the PIF (immunofluorescent method). It can be used not earlier than 1-1.5 months after the end of treatment. The antibody test cannot be used to monitor cure.
Prevention of chlamydia
Chlamydia infections and their sequelae are difficult to cure. It is a laborious and difficult process, and time and money consuming. It is a case where it is much easier to avoid a disease than to get rid of it later.
Prevention is as simple as for sexually transmitted diseases: avoid casual sex or use condoms.