Signs, Symptoms and Treatments
- Chlamydia is the most common STD in the United States and it is three times more than prevalent than gonorrhea.
- Untreated Chlamydia can progress to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), which denotes underlying damage to the genital and urinary tract structures.
- This infection is completely treatable, if confronted on time.
There are a number of infections that affect the human body. These infections transmit from one to another through various ways like air, touch and through sexual contact. Sexually transmitted infections (STDs) are easily transmitted from one person to another during sexual activity. Whether a STD is serious or not depends upon the intensity of the infection and the virus that has triggered the infection.
Chlamydia is said to be the most widespread STD in the United States and it is three times more than prevalent than gonorrhea. Men and women below the age of 25 enjoying a sexually active lifestyle are at a higher risk of getting this infection. Although Chlamydia is not a very serious form of infection and can be cured once a person takes the right form of treatment, the condition when left untreated could result in a number of complications including reducing the conceiving chances of a woman.
The infection occurs in both men and women, however in women, it can become more serious affecting the entire reproductive system of a woman. It can also result in the risk of causing ectopic pregnancy, that occurs outside the womb of a woman.
What are the Causes of Chlamydia?
Chlamydia is an infection caused by a bacteria and there are three sub-types:
- Chlamydia Trachomatis
- Chlamydia Pneumoniae
- Chlamydia Psittaci
Chlamydia Trachomatis is the only infection which is transmitted by skin-to-skin contact. It is transmitted if you have vaginal or oral sex with an infected person. Infected women, when pregnant, could pass on the infection to their children, during childbirth.
In case you have sex with a male who is infected by chlamydia, you can still catch the infection, even if your partner doesn't ejaculate.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Chlamydia?
In women, Chlamydia presents as vaginal discharge with a smell, abnormal menstrual cycles with bleeding between the cycles, pain during sexual intercourse and in urination and itching around the vagina.
In men, the symptoms are pain and swelling in the scrotum, painful urination and cloudy vaginal discharge from the penis.
Identifying Chlamydia is a little difficult at the beginning, because most people suffering from this disease do not face any specific symptoms of the disease. Even if the symptoms exist, they start after several weeks. A Chlamydia infection that does not produce any symptoms can also have serious implications, including causing severe damage to the reproductive system in a woman.
Women who are infected with this infection, may notice several symptoms like:
- A discharge from the vagina that seems rather abnormal
- A burning sensation caused at the time of urination
In case of men, the following symptoms may occur:
- Abnormal discharge from the penis
- Burning sensation during urination
- Inflammation and pain in one or both sides of the testicles
The infection can also affect both men and women in their rectum region either while having anal sex or when it spreads from other infected parts like the vagina. These infections rarely cause any symptoms, although they could cause the following:
- Pain in the rectal region
- Severe discharge
- Sudden bleeding
In case you notice any of the above symptoms, make sure you discuss the same with your treating doctor immediately. A physical examination may be carried out by the doctor to confirm the diagnosis for chlamydia.
Complications of Chlamydia
In men and women, untreated Chlamydia can progress to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). It is a disease characterized by a variety of symptoms, which denote underlying damage to the genital and urinary tract structures.
In women, PID most commonly affects the fallopian tubes, resulting in tubal blockage, or ectopic pregnancy. Chlamydia can also damage the uterus and cervix, resulting in infertility. It can spread to the liver capsule, resulting in right upper quadrant pain in the abdomen. It can also produce chronic pelvic pain, which can hamper daily routine. In men, PID can cause infection of epididymis, urethra and rectum. While these may not be severe, they can cause significant pain and itching.
In pregnant women, untreated Chlamydia has been reported to cause premature birth of babies. The child is also at high risk of neonatal pneumonia, eye infection and even blindness.
For the safety of your sexual partner and children, it is important to get lab tests done, if any of the symptoms are present.
Are You at Risk of Chlamydia?
Anyone can get Chlamydia by way of unprotected sex. Chlamydia could happen through vaginal, oral or anal sex, and the risk is the same in all the three types.
Young people who are sexually active are at a higher risk of getting affected by Chlamydia. This is primarily due to certain behavioral and biological traits that are commonly seen among young people. People who indulge in gay or bisexual sex, are also at a high risk of catching the chlamydia infection.
To reduce your risks of catching the infection, the first important step is to be aware of the infection and its possible associated risks. If you are indulging in any kind of sex as mentioned above, have an open chat with your doctor and find out if you should undergo a test for Chlamydia or other forms of STDs.
If you enjoy a sexually active life, are below the age of 25 years or have multiple sex partners who could be at risk of sexually transmitted infections; then you should get yourself tested for Chlamydia and other STDs every year.
Your physician will start by taking a detailed history of your symptoms and sexual activity. You will then be asked to provide a urine sample (for men) and a vaginal swab (for women), which will then isolate the RNA of the causative agent.
Because the complications are much more severe for women, all sexually active women between the ages of 18 to 44 are encouraged to undergo yearly screening tests for Chlamydia. Older women with multiple sexual partners or a history of sexually transmitted infection should also undergo these tests. Pregnant women under 25 are screened at their first antenatal visit, and those who have had a history of multiple sexual partners should be screened again in their third trimester.
Men with a high-risk for Chlamydia are screened only if they present with symptoms or in STD clinics.
What is the Treatment for Chlamydia?
Antibiotics are prescribed to treat Chlamydia. The course of antibiotics lasts for 7 days, after which complete abstinence from sexual activity for the next 7 days. There is a high chance of recurrence of Chlamydia, and women and men have to be tested again three months after the first course of antibiotics. Chlamydia infections in the newborn can also be treated with antibiotics.
How to Prevent Chlamydia?
Preventive measures for Chlamydia include abstinence from oral and anal sex. Condoms should be used consistently and correctly during vaginal intercourse. Monogamous relationships are also encouraged, and both the partners should test negative for Chlamydia. If symptoms appear, it is an indication to stop engaging in intercourse and consult a doctor immediately. If you have had Chlamydia before, it is strongly advised to tell any current and previous sexual partners about your disease.
Natural Remedies to treat Chlamydia
There are a number of natural remedies that are very helpful in treating Chlamydia. These healthy alternative remedies help to ease the symptoms of Chlamydia.
- Garlic: Garlic is a natural spice which contains certain antibiotic and antiviral properties which can largely help in alleviating symptoms of Chlamydia. Chlamydia can be treated very effectively with the consumption of garlic.
- Sage: Sage is a herbal plant which helps in building immunity by cleansing the system internally. The herbal properties of this plant also help in treating Chlamydia.The leaves of the sage plant can be boiled in water and consumed in the form of tea to get rid of Chlamydia.
- Neem: Neem is known in Ayurveda for its medicinal and antibacterial properties. Neem oil or crushed seeds of neem can greatly help in curing the symptoms of Chlamydia.
- Olive Tree Extract: The olive tree extract can be used in a number of ways to treat the Chlamydia infection. As a powder, as a leaf or as an extract, it works in the same way to treat the symptoms of the infection. It also helps to improve the body's immunit from the inside, thereby fastening the recovery process. Olive tree extract contains an active compound known as Oleuropein which directly works on the bacteria. When applied topically on the affected area, it kills the chlamydia causing bacteria, thereby providing immediate relief from the condition.
- Whole Beans and Grains: There are some dietary changes that are recommended for the management of the chlamydia infection. Largely, one should increase the consumption of fibers in their foods to fight the infection. While the exact relation is not well understood, it is observed that eating fiber has natural benefits for the body, which helps to fight and eradicate the chlamydia infection from the body. Fibers can be in the forms of fruits, beans, grains and vegetables.
- Echinacea: Echinacea is considered to be a potent cleanser for the body with a number of antibacterial and antiviral properties. It acts as a very good remedy for Chlamydia whether consumed as capsules, tonic or tinctures. This remedy helps in treating Chlamydia by working on the bacteria causing the infection directly within the body. This is one of the most effective natural remedies for the Chlamydia infection.
Lifestyle and Coping
Being diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease like Chlamydia can cause a number of emotions to run through the mind of the infected. Right from embarrassment to depression, a person undergoes various emotions that can really disturb them and make them a recluse. What one does need to understand is that the infection is completely treatable, however it needs to be confronted on time.
The damage due to an untreated Chlamydia infection is far greater than just the speaking to your doctor openly and getting treated for the infection. If you have been diagnosed with the infection, it is important that you also speak about it to your sexual partners, as they may have contracted the infection from you too. They may also need to undergo the treatment. Awareness is one of the keys when dealing with and preventing a disease like Chlamydia.