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Just hearing about a sexually transmitted infection (STI) like chlamydia can be scary and confusing. However, OBGYN Dr. Jackie Walters is dedicated to empowering her patients and people everywhere about their sexual health and well-being. Below, the Married to Medicine doctor explains everything you need to know about chlamydia, including how the STI is contracted, the symptoms to look out for, and how it can be treated.
As a physician (obstetrician/gynecologist) who is a female and only sees female patients, I have made it my mission to constantly educate, encourage, and empower not only my patients but also all females across the earth about their health, especially their sexual health and wellness.
It is around this time of the year that my young adult patients are headed off to or back to college. I have made it my practice to empower my young ladies with a wealth of knowledge to get through college not only educated in their selected degrees but also to come back safe and free of sexually transmitted infection (STI). As much as I would like to think they all listen to my spiel, umm... this is not the case. A few of them are not taking my advice to practice safe sex.
In one of my recent “Monday’s Medical Moments” on my Instagram page (@therealdrjackie), I wanted to empower young women with a wealth of knowledge to keep them sexually well. I reminded everyone that the most common STI in the United States is chlamydia.
Chlamydia is caused by a sexually transmitted bacterial known as Chlamydia Trachomatis. It’s seen in both men and women but is more prevalent in young women. A woman’s anatomy places her at a disproportionately higher risk of contracting an STI, and she is likely to have no symptoms when it comes to the common STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhea. A woman’s rate of acquiring chlamydia is 2.5 times higher than a man's.
Chlamydia is referred to as the silent STI because there are oftentimes no apparent symptoms, and when there are symptoms, they can be subtle. These symptoms are confused for other things that women get like urinary tract infections (UTIs), vaginitis, ovulation, and even endometriosis.
In the early stages of a chlamydia infection, there are often no symptoms, as stated, but if and when they are noticed, it could be one to three weeks after exposure. Men may notice a discharge from the penis, burning when urinating, and testicular pain. Women may have a vaginal discharge, pain with sex, lower abdomen pain, back pain, and bleeding between periods and after sex. Women, like men, may notice some burning with urinating.
This very common STI is spread through vaginal, anal, and oral sex. It can be easily diagnosed with a simple swab test from the urethra in men and the cervix or vagina in women. Now we can even detect chlamydia in a urine sample.
It can be detected in the mucous membranes of the genital region, the eyes, and the throat.
Chlamydia can also be transmitted from the mother to her child during pregnancy and/or childbirth.
The good news about chlamydia is when detected, it is easily treated with a single dose of antibiotics. I do advise that my patient is retested approximately a month or so after the treatment (this is called a test of cure). If left untreated, however, it can lead to more serious health problems, such as, for women, pelvic inflammatory disease leading to infertility.
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