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Diseases & Conditions

Chlamydia Trachomatis

What is chlamydia?

Chlamydia trachomatis is a bacteria-like organism. C.trachomatis is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). Both men and women can get chlamydia. When left untreated, chlamydia can cause:

  • Damage to the sex organs
  • Sterility (the inability to have children)
  • Tubal pregnancies, which can lead to the death of the mother and child
  • Premature births (giving birth too early)

What are the symptoms of chlamydia?

In women

About half of the women with chlamydia do not have symptoms. When symptoms are present, they may include:

  • White, yellow or green discharge (fluid) from the vagina that may have a bad smell
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Itching or burning in or around the vagina
  • Dull pain in the lower abdomen or pelvis
  • Pain or burning when passing urine
  • Painful periods
In men

Most men have symptoms, although some do not. Symptoms include:

  • Clear or white discharge (fluid) from the penis
  • Pain or burning when passing urine
  • Pain and swelling around the testicles

What causes chlamydia?

Chlamydia trachomatis is one of three distinct species of bacteria that cause infections in humans. Bacteria that cause the infection can be spread during sex or through contact with the genitals or anus.

How can I know if I have chlamydia?

If you think you have chlamydia, or any STI, contact your health care provider. He or she will examine you and perform tests, if necessary, to determine if you have an STI.

To check for chlamydia, the woman is given a pelvic exam. A sample of fluid is taken from the vagina. In men, a sample of fluid may be taken from the penis. The fluid is sent to a laboratory for testing.

Can chlamydia be cured?

Yes. Chlamydia can be treated and cured.

How is chlamydia treated?

Chlamydia is treated with antibiotic medication, which are medications taken by mouth. Since both you and your sex partner have been infected, both of you must be treated.

With treatment, the infection should clear up in about seven days. Continue to take your medication, even if the symptoms go away.

Also, never take someone else's medication to treat your illness. By doing so, you may make the infection more difficult to treat.

You should also:

Tell anyone with whom you have had sex in the last three months that you are infected. This step is especially important because chlamydia may have no symptoms. Women, especially, may not have symptoms and may not seek testing or treatment unless alerted by their sex partners. Abstain from sex until you have taken all of your medication.

Get checked for HIV (AIDS) and other STIs (syphilis, herpes, gonorrhea).

Can I get chlamydia more than once?

Yes.

What can happen if chlamydia is not treated?

In women, chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID is a serious infection of the reproductive organs. PID can cause:

  • Infertility
  • Tubal pregnancies, which can lead to death of the mother and unborn child

A mother also can pass the infection to her child during birth. Infection in newborns can lead to:

  • Eye infections
  • Pneumonia

How can I protect myself from chlamydia?

  • Do not have sex with someone you know is infected.
  • Always use a condom during sex.
  • Have sex with only one partner
  • Get tested

Where can I learn more?

CDC Hotline: 800.232.4636
www.cdc.gov/std/default.htm

© Copyright 1995-2009 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. All rights reserved.

Can't find the health information you’re looking for?

This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 1/26/2010...#4023

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