Chlamydia is caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis and brings about an infection that is similar to gonorrhea in the method that it is transmitted and the symptoms it exhibits. This disease is very common and infects around 4 million women each year. The bacterium that causes Chlamydia is located in the cervix and urethra and can also live in the rectum and throat. Infected males and females exhibit little or no symptoms that is why they are unaware that they have the disease. Because of this, they unknowingly pass on the infection to others. Another type of Chlamydia trachomatis, which can be detected in specialized laboratories, causes the STD lymphogranuloma venereum.
A large number of women with Chlamydia do not exhibit symptoms. The infection of the cervix known as cervicitis, is the most usual symptom in women. About 50% of women with chlamydial cervicitis manifest no symptoms, while others may experience abdominal pain or vaginal discharge. Infection of the urethra is often caused by the chlamydial infection of the cervix. Women afflicted with urethritis have the common symptoms of urinary tract infection, including painful and frequent urination.
Chlamydia can harm the Fallopian tubes. It can also bring about extreme pelvic infection. If left untreated, around 30% of women infected with Chlamydia will have pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). The symptoms of PID are pelvic cramping, abdominal pain, fever, or painful intercourse. Pelvic infection can affect the ability of a woman to become pregnant and may even cause infertility. Sometimes, if the infection is serious, such as the presence of pus (an abscess) and localized area of infection, surgery may need to be performed, and can even be lifesaving.
Since it is usual for infected women to exhibit no symptoms, Chlamydial infection is left untreated most of the time and results in the damage of the Fallopian tubes, fertility and pregnancy problems, as well as tubal pregnancy.
Like gonorrhea, Chlamydia is linked to increased cases of premature births. In addition, the newborn can get the infection during the birthing process through the infected birth canal, which causes severe eye damage or pneumonia. Because of this, all newborn infants are given eye drops which have an antibiotic that can kill the Chlamydia bacteria. Treatment for all newborns is necessary since many women are infected and exhibit no symptoms, and also because of the consequences of chlamydial eye infection to the infant.
Diagnosis of Chlamydia is done by swabbing the cervix during a usual gynecological examination using a speculum, but nowadays, noninvasive tests using urine and self-collected vaginal swabs are available and more popular with patients because it is less expensive. These tests are very much available at various STD clinics nationwide.