What is Chlamydia?

By  , Expert Content
Jan 31, 2012

Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted disease, which is caused by infection with an obligate intracellular parasite called Chlamydia trachomatis. Millions of new cases are diagnosed every year worldwide, but these probably represent less than half of all infections. According to a research, about 92 million new Chlamydia infections occur each year, affecting more women (50 million) than men (42 million). Most infections are not diagnosed because about 50% of men and 75% of women have no symptoms.

The bacteria Chlamydia causes infection of the cervix in women and the urethra in men. It can infect rectum in both men and women. In some cases, Chlamydia may infect other parts of the body including the throat and eyes. Chlamydia trachomatis can damage a woman's reproductive organs if it is not treated properly. In many cases, the symptoms are often undetectable or may be mild. Studies indicate that about 50%-75% of all women infected with Chlamydia have no symptoms though the  infection with Chlamydia can cause serious complications that may result in irreversible damage to the female reproductive organs and infertility. Hence, it should be treated as soon as possible. If the sex partner is not treated, the woman is at a risk of getting re-infected. In men, the infection with Chlamydia causes discharge from the penis.

Chlamydia infection in men

In men, the primary infection site of Chlamydia is the urethra. Urethra is the tube inside the penis that carries urine and sperm to the outside of the body. Infection of the urethra is called urethritis. Some symptoms that may develop in a man with Chlamydia infection include:

  • Burning sensation while passing urine.
  • Pain while urinating.
  • Discharge from the urethra (opening of the penis, which carries urine and sperm).
  • Pain or discomfort in the testicles.
  • Pain in or discharge from the rectum (in case of anal sex).

Chlamydia infection in women

Cervix of the uterus is the primary site of infection of Chlamydia in women. Cervix is the mouth of the uterus, which connects it to the vagina. Infection of the cervix is called cervicitis. Some symptoms that may develop in a woman with Chlamydia infection include:

  • Irritation in vagina.
  • Vaginal discharge.
  • Pain during sexual intercourse.
  • Pain in or discharge from the rectum (in case of anal sex).
  • Dull pain in the lower abdomen.



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