Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease and any sexually active person can get infected with Chlamydia during vaginal, anal or oral sex. People with Chlamydia, who do not have any symptoms, may unknowingly spread Chlamydia among their partners. Chlamydia infection can be transmitted from an infected mother to her baby during childbirth. In babies, Chlamydia can cause pneumonia or conjunctivitis.
Prognosis and complications of Chlamydia:
Teenage girls and young women are at a higher risk of infection with Chlamydia than others. The opening to the uterus at this age is more susceptible to infection.
Antibiotics are the mainstay of treatment of Chlamydia infection. With appropriate treatment, Chlamydial infections can be cured 95% of the time.
Complications of Chlamydia in women if not treated appropriately
- Infertility: If the infection is not treated appropriately in women, it can lead to irreversible damage to the female reproductive organs and infertility. This may happen even when there are minimal or no symptoms. Therefore, if you have any symptom suggestive of genital infection, do not ignore it. Consult your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID): PID causes infection of the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes. About 10% to 40% of women develop pelvic inflammatory disease. PID may cause pain in the back, lower abdomen, fever etc. As the fallopian tubes are damaged in PID, the risk of ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy outside the womb) or premature birth is heightened. If the fallopian tubes are damaged severely, there may be problems with fertility. Apart from causing damage to the female reproductive organs, PID can extend to involve the liver and develop a form of liver disease (perihepatitis).
- Cervicitis: It is the inflammation of the cervix. Symptoms of cervicitis include yellowish vaginal discharge and pain during sex. Some women with chronic infection may develop deep pelvic pain and backache.
Complications of Chlamydia in men if not treated appropriately include:
- Epididymitis: Epididymis is the structure, which stores and transports sperm in men. Infection of epididymis can cause painful inflammation of the structure and lead to infertility.
- Urethritis: Infection and inflammation of the urethra (tube inside the penis that carries urine and sperm to outside of the body) can cause a yellow or pus-like discharge to collect at the tip of the penis. If it is not treated, it can cause narrowing of the urethra thereby, making urination difficult and, in severe cases, causing kidney problems.
- Reactive arthritis: Men are more likely to develop sexually acquired reactive arthritis or Reiter syndrome. Some symptoms that may occur in Reiter syndrome include inflammation of the joints, urethra and eyes.