Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease that is caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis. This is the most frequently reported STD in the US. However, the reported number could be lower than the actual number of people with the STD since many have the disease without knowing it. Symptoms are often mild and in some cases, completely absent. Read on to know the most common types of symptoms that manifest in patients with chlamydia.
The most common symptoms of chlamydia include:
- burning sensation during urination
- pain or discomfort during sex
- pain or discomfort in the lower belly
- abnormal vaginal discharge
- bleeding between periods
- abnormal penile discharge (pus or watery discharge)
- abnormal odor in vaginal or penile discharge
- burning around the penis
- swelling and/or tenderness in the testicles
- pain around the anus
- bleeding around the anus
In a small number of cases, the bacteria reaches the eyes and may cause redness, itching and discharges around the eyes. In some cases, it may also cause throat soreness but cases like these are rare.
When do Chlamydia symptoms appear?
Symptoms appear about 1 to 3 weeks after exposure to bacteria. Because the symptoms are often so mild, people mistake them for signs of another disease and actual diagnosis is only made after laboratory tests are done. Symptoms tend to appear in the morning.
Doctors emphasize the need to get regular testing for chlamydia especially for those with multiple sex partners since the disease has silent or difficult-to-detect symptoms. Chlamydia tests are free in public health clinics, are generally quick and painless. People who should opt for regular testing are those who are sexually active, have partners who are showing some of the signs of the disease and women who are pregnant. For the latter, testing for chlamydia should be done at the first prenatal visit. Testing is very important for pregnant women who are showing symptom since the infection can also be transmitted to the infant during a vaginal birth.
Knowledge of symptoms is crucial in helping prevent the spread of chlamydia. At the first appearance of any symptom, patients are advised to refrain from intercourse until testing has been done. Fortunately, the disease is easily treatable with antibiotics which can eliminate the infection in a week or two. Patients are advised to finish the complete round of antibiotics even before they feel better. Re-testing after taking a complete round of antibiotics should be done three months later to ensure that the infection has been cured.