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Anna had no symptoms when she went to a clinic to get a prescription for birth control pills. But, a routine test revealed that the 20-year-old had chlamydia. Despite having no symptoms she was still diagnosed with this sexually transmitted disease.
Chlamydia is a common, yet curable STD that is caused by an infection by a specific bacteria. The infection can be spread during oral, vaginal, or anal sexual contact with an infected partner. It can also be passed from mother to baby during delivery.
Chlamydia is diagnosed by testing discharge from the vagina or penis. It can also be diagnosed by testing a urine sample. Once diagnosed, the STD is easily treated with antibiotics.
The STD often remains undiagnosed because a person may not have any symptoms or may only have mild symptoms such as discharge or burning during urination.
Screenings are available to diagnose chlamydia in women. All sexually active women 25 and younger should get screened for chlamydia every year as well as women over the age of 25 who have new or multiple sex partners. Sexually active young men, especially men who have sex with men, should also be tested annually.
If left undiagnosed, chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease and lead to infertility. In pregnant women, it can cause childbirth complications and illness in newborns such as conjunctivitis or pneumonia.
Men can also experience complications such as epididymitis, an inflammation of the tube that carries and stores sperm cells. It can also cause urethritis, which affects the tube that carries urine out of the body.
Luckily, Anna’s condition was diagnosed early and treated before complications occurred. To prevent a future infection, she was advised to practice safe sex. You can reduce your chance of getting chlamydia or giving it to your partner by using male latex condoms correctly every time you have sexual intercourse.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Sex Information and Education Council of Canada
Sexuality and U—The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Chlamydia - CDC fact sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/std/chlamydia/STDFact-Chlamydia.htm. Updated December 16, 2014. Accessed February 5, 2016.
Chlamydia genital infection. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 14, 2016. Accessed February 5, 2016
Chlamydia: symptoms. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/chlamydia/symptoms.html. Updated July 2013. Accessed February 5, 2016.
Chlamydia testing. Lab Tests Online—American Association for Clinical Chemistry website. Available at: http://labtestsonline.org/understanding/analytes/chlamydia/tab/glance. Updated December 16, 2015. Accessed February 5, 2016.
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated September 11, 2015. Accessed February 5, 2016.
Last reviewed February 2016 by Michael Woods, MD Last Updated: 4/2/2014