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Gynaecologic Problems: Chlamydia

Description

Chlamydial infection is caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis . Chlamydia is the leading sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the United States today, with an estimated 4 million new cases occurring each year. A pregnant woman may pass the infection to her newborn during delivery. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), a serious complication of chlamydial infection, has emerged as a major cause of infertility of women of childbearing age.
Chlamydia is spread during sexual intercourse via the exchange of bodily fluids through mucous membranes in the anus, mouth, and genital areas.

Symptoms and Signs

Men and women with chlamydial infections may experience abnormal genital discharge or pain during urination. These early symptoms may be absent or very mild, but if they occur, they will do so within 1 to 3 weeks of exposure. However, half of infected women and 25 % of infected men may have no symptoms whatsoever. As a result, the disease is often not diagnosed until complications develop. In addition to pelvic inflammatory disease , chlamydia can cause an inflamed rectum and conjunctivitis . The bacteria have also been found in the throat as a result of oral sexual contact with an infected partner.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Chlamydia is easily confused with gonorrhoea because the symptoms of both diseases are similar, and because they often occur together. Until recently, the only way to diagnose chlamydia was to take a sample of secretions from a patient’s genital area and culture the organism in special tissue culture in the laboratory. While still the most definitive test, it is expensive and technically difficult. Results can take up to 3 days. More recently, however, several rapid tests that use sophisticated techniques and a dye to detect bacterial proteins have been developed and are a readily available test for chlamydial infection.

Chlamydia is curable with certain antibiotics like tetracycline, erthyromicin, and azithromycin (but not penicillin, as is the case for other STDs). It is very important that a person with chlamydial infection take all of the prescribed medication, even after symptoms disappear.

The information in this page is presented in summarised form and has been taken from the following source(s):
1. The National Women's Health Information Center (NWHIC) FAQs: http://www.4woman.gov/faq/


Other HON resources 
   From MedHunt
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Chlamydia in women
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Chlamydia
Chlamydia Infections
Chlamydia trachomatis

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  http://www.hon.ch/Dossier/MotherChild/gynae_problems/std_chlamydia.html Last modified: Jun 25 2002