Chlamydia infection is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in humans caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. Chlamydia is a major infectious cause of human genital disease. Chlamydia infection is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections worldwide.
Chlamydia can be transmitted during vaginal, anal, or oral sex, and can be passed from an infected mother to her baby during vaginal childbirth.
In men, infection of the urethra (urethritis) is usually symptomatic, causing a white discharge from the penis with or without pain on urinating (dysuria).
Occasionally, the conditions spreads to the upper genital tract in women (causing pelvic inflammatory disease) or to the epididymis in men (causing epididymitis). If untreated, chlamydial infections can cause serious reproductive and other health problems with both short-term and long-term consequences.
Signs and symptoms
Chlamydial cervicitis in a female patient characterized by mucopurulent cervical discharge, erythema, and inflammation.
Male patients may develop a white, cloudy or watery discharge (shown) from the tip of the penis.
Chlamydial infection of the neck of the womb (cervicitis) is a sexually transmitted infection which is asymptomatic for about 50-70% of women infected with the disease.
The infection can be passed through vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Of those who have an asymptomatic infection that is not detected by their doctor, approximately half will develop pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), a generic term for infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes, and/or ovaries. PID can cause scarring inside the reproductive organs, which can later cause serious complications, including chronic pelvic pain, difficulty becoming pregnant, ectopic (tubal) pregnancy, and other dangerous complications of pregnancy.
Symptoms that may occur include: unusual vaginal bleeding or discharge, pain in the abdomen, painful sexual intercourse (dyspareunia), fever, painful urination or the urge to urinate more frequently than usual (urinary urgency). Low back pain, nausea, fever, pain during intercourse, or bleeding between menstrual periods. Chlamydial infection of the cervix can spread to the rectum.
Men with signs or symptoms might have a discharge from their penis or a burning sensation when urinating. Men might also have burning and itching around the opening of the penis. Pain and swelling in the testicles are uncommon.
In men, Chlamydia shows symptoms of infectious urethritis (inflammation of the urethra). Symptoms that may occur include: a painful or burning sensation when urinating, an unusual discharge from the penis, swollen or tender testicles, or fever. Discharge, or the purulent is generally less viscous and lighter in color than for gonorrhea. If left untreated, it is possible for Chlamydia in men to spread to the testicles causing epididymitis, which in rare cases can cause sterility if not treated within 6 to 8 weeks. Chlamydia is also a potential cause of prostatitis in men.
As many as half of all infants born to mothers with chlamydia will be born with the disease. Chlamydia can affect infants by causing spontaneous abortion; premature birth; conjunctivitis, which may lead to blindness; and pneumonia.
C. trachomatis infection can be effectively cured with various antibiotics once it is detected.