Tag Archives: chlamydia

Chlamydia 101: A Refresher Course on a Common STI!

gytEveryone here at the Feronia project cares a great deal about sexual health. Why else would we spend time writing about it if we didn’t!? We try to give you as much information as possible about current issues, new findings, and exciting research. However, sometimes it’s important to get back to basics. Recently, I was talking with a friend of ours at the Feronia Project about Chlamydia, and she highlighted how important it was that we keep everyone informed about the infection! So today, we’re doing some Chlamydia 101, and giving you all the info you need to know about this sexually transmitted infection!

What is Chlamydia?

It’s a common STI that can infect anyone who is sexual active. It can be spread through sexual contact, and no ejaculation has to occur for it to be spread! Chlamydia can also be transmitted through childbirth. While chlamydia can be easily treated if it is detected early enough, there can be serious long lasting damage if an infection is left for too long without being treated. These long term consequences include pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and increased risk of ectopic pregnancy. Check out this CDC fact sheet to find out more.

What are the symptoms of Chlamydia?

When symptoms of chlamydia are present, they can include abdominal pain, abnormal vaginal bleeding, abnormal vaginal and penile discharge, low grade fever, swelling inside the vagina, swelling around the anus, painful or burning urination, and swollen testicles. However, it is important to note that MANY people are asymptomatic, or have symptoms so mild that they do not notice them. According to Planned Parenthood, three out of four women with chlamydia have no symptoms, while half of men have no symptoms.

What should you do?

The first thing you can do is get tested, and make sure you have a regular testing schedule. If at risk, people between the ages of 15 and 24 should get tested yearly, while those 25 and older should be screened with each new sexual partner that they have. Additionally, you need to use a barrier method (like condoms) to help prevent the spread of this infection. While abstinence is absolutely the best method to prevent any STI transmission, the next best thing that you can do is use a barrier method. Condoms are very effective at reducing the spread of chlamydia, but it is important to use them during ALL sexual acts where transmission is possible, such as anal, vaginal, and oral sex. Condoms which are effective against STD transmission include latex condoms (the most common kind), as well as polyisoprene and polyurethane condoms. Lambskin condoms are not as effective at preventing sexually transmitted diseases, and should only be relied upon for pregnancy prevention.

So that’s the 411 on chlamydia! It’s important to always use a barrier method and to get tested regularly, particularly because chlamydia can often leave people without symptoms despite causing damage later! If you have chlamydia, it’s important to not engage in ANY sexual contact until you have completed your treatment, even if you are using a condom! Additionally, if you have been diagnosed with chlamydia it is important that you tell any partners that you may have infected. It might be embarrassing or uncomfortable, but there is a good chance they won’t know otherwise!

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STD Testing During Pregnancy

cdcSo you just found out you or your partner is pregnant. There are so many things to think about, but one thing many people never think about is getting tested for STDs. Most prenatal visits include testing but it’s also important for a new or old partner to be tested so infections are not spread to mom during her pregnancy. To varying degrees, all infections have the potential to affect a developing fetus. Knowing what tests to ask for depend on risk factors such as age, number of partners, use of condoms or barriers, possible exposure and drug use. Here are the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2010 STD Testing Guidelines:

Chlamydia 

Screen all pregnant women at first prenatal visit; 3rd trimester rescreen if younger than 25 years of age and/or high risk group.

Gonorrhea 

Screen all pregnant women at risk at first prenatal visit; 3rd trimester rescreen women at continued high risk. Risk factors include: young women aged 25 years or younger, living in a high morbidity area, previous GC infection, other STDs, new or multiple sex partners, inconsistent condom use, commercial sex work, and/or drug use.

Syphilis

Screen all pregnant women at first prenatal visit; during 3rd trimester rescreen women who are at high risk for syphilis or who live in areas with high numbers of syphilis cases, and/or those who were not previously tested or had a positive test in the first trimester.

Bacterial Vaginosis

Test pregnant women who have symptoms or are at high risk for preterm labor.

Trichomoniasis 

Test pregnant women with symptoms.

Herpes (HSV)

Test pregnant women with symptoms.

HIV 

Screen all pregnant women at first prenatal visit; rescreening in the third trimester recommended for women at high risk for getting HIV infection.

Hepatitis B

Screen all pregnant women at first prenatal visit: retest those who were not screened prenatally, those who engage in behaviors that put them at high risk for infection and those with signs or symptoms of hepatitis at the time of admission to the hospital for delivery. Risk factors include: having had more than one sex partner in the previous six months, evaluation or treatment for an STD, recent or current injection-drug use, and an HBsAg-positive sex partner.

Human Papillomavirus

There is not enough evidence to make a recommendation.

Hepatitis C 

All pregnant women at high risk should be tested at first prenatal visit.

To find out more information about STDs during pregnancy, visit the CDC website.

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Chlamydia Conjunctivitis: A Real Eye Sore

Did you know that chlamydia can infect eyes? Chlamydia trachomatis, the bacteria responsible for causing chlamydia infections of the penis and vagina, will live in other mucous membranes given the chance. A mucous membrane is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria like chlamydia and gonnorhea because the soft tissues are warm, wet, and easy to infect. (To see an example of a mucous membrane, go to the mirror and pull down your bottom eyelid or open your mouth.)

UnknownThe symptoms of a chlamydia infection of the eye are much like that of pink eye – red, irritated eyes, discharge, visual impairment, crusty eyelashes, eyelid swelling, sensitivity to light, and itchiness. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), chlamydia conjunctivitis or trachoma leaves 2.2 million people visually impaired and 1.2 million blind worldwide.

So how does chlamydia get in the eye anyway? It can be spread to the eye via self-infection (let’s say a person has chlamydia on the genitals, touches fluid on genitals, doesn’t wash hands, and then touches their own eyes). It can also be spread through the eye discharge of an infected person by fingers, towels, washcloths, and eye-seeking flies. Sadly, in hyperendemic areas (poorest and most remote poor rural areas of Africa, Asia, Central and South America, Australia, and the Middle East), active disease is most common in pre-school children with prevalence rates as high as 60-90%.

The good news is that antibiotics cure chlamydia no matter where in the body the infection is. If you suspect a chlamydia infection of any kind, please seek care immediately and use barrier protection if you have sex. Remember that chlamydia often has no symptoms so make STI testing part of your regular health care routine.

(See previous Feronia post on chlamydia.)

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STIs: The Facts About Chlamydia

Do I have an STD? All about chlamydia.April is STD Awareness Month, and today we’re making you aware of one of the most common (and curable) STDs: chlamydia.

What Is It?

  • Chlamydia is one of the most commonly reported sexually transmitted infections in the United States. In 2010, 1,307,893 chlamydial infections were reported to CDC from 50 states and the District of Columbia.

How Is It Spread?

  • Chlamydia is most commonly spread through unprotected vaginal or anal sex.

What are the Symptoms?

  • Many individuals do not have noticeable symptoms. If someone has symptoms, they will appear two weeks to several months after exposure to the parasite.
  • Fifty to eighty percent of women will not have noticeable symptoms. When symptoms appear they may experience: vaginal itching, abnormal vaginal discharge, pelvic pain, fever and/or nausea, and/or painful urination and a frequent need to urinate. If left untreated, it may affect a women’s ability to become pregnant.
  • For men, they may experience: discharge from penis, burning when urinating, burning and/or itching around urethra, and/or symptoms that appear in the morning that go away and then come back.

What Is the Treatment?

  • Thankfully, chlamydia can be cured with antibiotics. Both you and your partner must be treated and take all of the prescribed medication to ensure you do not re-infect each other again. Make sure that if you are being tested for chlamydia that you are also being tested for other STD’s.

Where Can I Go To Get Tested?

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