What is Chlamydia Trachomatis? Chlamydia Trachomatis Infection
Chlamydia trachomatis infection is caused by a bacterial infection that is transmitted through sexual contact. It is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and can cause a variety of symptoms, including discharge from the genitals and pain while urinating. In some cases, however, the infection can be asymptomatic, which means that people may not know they have it. If left untreated, chlamydia can lead to serious health problems, such as pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility. It can be treated with antibiotics.
Chlamydia often affects young women but still the chances of affecting women and men of all ages still remain. It’s not difficult to treat, but if left untreated it can lead to more serious health problems.
Symptoms of Chlamydia
In some people, chlamydia may be asymptomatic and shows no signs. But in most cases, it appears with common signs. The most common symptoms of chlamydia in men include discharge from the penis, pain or burning during urination and pain or tenderness in the testicles.
- Painful or burning sensation while urinating
- Discharge from the genitals (either clear, cloudy, or yellowish)
- Pain or discomfort in the lower abdomen or pelvic area
- Pain during intercourse
- Itching or redness around the genitals
- Swollen or painful testicles (in men)
- Rectal pain, discharge, or bleeding (in individuals who engage in anal sex)
- Heavy or irregular periods (in women)
- Bleeding or spotting between periods (in women)
- No symptoms at all (many individuals with Chlamydia may be asymptomatic)
Causes of Chlamydia
Chlamydia is caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis. The infection is spread through sexual contact with an infected person, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex. It can also be passed from an infected mother to her baby during childbirth. People who have multiple sexual partners or engage in unprotected sex are at a higher risk of contracting the infection. Chlamydia is often asymptomatic, so many people may not know they have the infection and can unknowingly spread it to others.
Risk Factors of Chlamydia
The following are risk factors for chlamydia infection:
- Having unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex
- Having multiple sexual partners
- Having a history of sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Being a young adult, as chlamydia is more common in people under 25
- Being a woman, as they have a higher risk of developing serious complications from a chlamydia infection
- Not consistently using condoms during sexual activity
- Not getting screened regularly.
In some cases, Chlamydia may be asymptomatic, but in most cases, it appears with signs like discharge from the vagina, penis, and rectum. You must consult a doctor if you have discharge from genitalia and pain during urination. Moreover, if you suspect your partner has symptoms, you must see a doctor to nip the disease in bud. The doctor will diagnose the condition after a complete examination, and prescribe related antibiotics to control it.
Complications with Chlamydia
Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. If left untreated, it can lead to several complications, including:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women: Chlamydia is an underlying condition for PID, which can cause damage to the fallopian tubes, uterus, and surrounding structures, leading to infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and chronic pelvic pain.
- Epididymitis in men: Epididymitis is an inflammation of the epididymis (a tube located next to the testicles) that can cause pain, swelling, and in rare cases, infertility.
- Reactive arthritis: Reactive arthritis is a type of inflammation that affects the joints, eyes, and urethra.
- Risk of Other STIs: An increased risk of contracting other STIs, such as HIV can be developed by Chlamydia.
- Pregnancy complications in women: Pregnancy complications like premature delivery, low birth weight, and eye and lung infections in newborns can be caused by Chlamydia Trachomatis. The chlamydia infection can pass from the vaginal canal to your child during delivery, causing pneumonia or a serious eye infection.
- Infertility. Chlamydia infections (even those that produce no signs or symptoms) can cause scarring and obstruction in the fallopian tubes, which might make women infertile.
- Prostate gland infection: Rarely, the chlamydia organism can spread to a man’s prostate gland. Prostatitis can cause pain during or after sex, fever and chills, painful urination, and lower back pain.
- Ectopic pregnancy. This occurs when a fertilized egg implants and grows outside of the uterus, usually in a fallopian tube. The pregnancy needs to be removed to prevent life-threatening complications, such as a burst tube. Chlamydia infection increases this risk.
It’s important to diagnose and treat chlamydia early to prevent these complications, which is why it’s important to practice safe sex and get regular STI screenings if you are sexually active.
Diagnosis of Chlamydia
Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Chlamydia screening and testing in
- Sexually active women age 25 or younger. The rate of chlamydia infection is highest in this group, so a yearly screening test is recommended. Even if you’ve been tested in the past year, get tested when you have a new sex partner.
- Pregnant women. You should be tested for chlamydia during your first prenatal exam. If you have a high risk of infection — from changing sex partners or because your regular partner might be infected — get tested again later in your pregnancy.
- Women and men at high risk. People who have multiple sex partners, who don’t always use a condom or men who have sex with men should consider frequent chlamydia screening. Other markers of high risk are current infection with another sexually transmitted infection and possible exposure to an STI through an infected partner.
Tests for diagnosing Chlamydia
Chlamydia is typically diagnosed through a laboratory test of a sample taken from the affected area, such as a urine sample or a swab from the cervix, urethra, or rectum. The sample is then analyzed for the presence of Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria.
Some common diagnostic tests for Chlamydia include:
- Nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs):
Nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) are a type of diagnostic test that can be used to detect the presence of Chlamydia trachomatis, the bacterium that causes chlamydia. These tests work by amplifying small amounts of DNA or RNA from the bacterium, making it possible to detect very low levels of the microbe. NAATs can be performed on a variety of specimens, including urine, cervical, urethral, and rectal swabs. They are highly accurate and have largely replaced traditional culture-based methods for the diagnosis of chlamydia. However, NAATs test only for the presence of chlamydia infection specifically, so other tests may be performed to diagnose other possible sexually transmitted infections.
- Direct fluorescent antibody (DFA) test:
The Direct Fluorescent Antibody (DFA) test is a laboratory diagnostic method that uses fluorescently labeled antibodies to detect the presence of Chlamydia bacteria. The test typically involves obtaining a sample of the patient’s cervical or urine specimen and then applying the fluorescent antibodies to the sample. If the sample contains Chlamydia, the antibodies will bind to the bacteria and fluoresce under UV light, indicating a positive result. The DFA test can provide results within a few hours and is considered to be highly specific and sensitive, making it a valuable tool for diagnosing Chlamydia infections.
- Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA):An enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) is a commonly used laboratory test to diagnose Chlamydia infections. In an ELISA test, a sample of the patient’s urine or swab is added to a plate that contains Chlamydia antigens. If the patient’s sample contains Chlamydia antibodies, they will bind to the antigens on the plate, creating a visible reaction.There are a couple of different types of ELISA tests for Chlamydia, such as the Ligase Chain Reaction (LCR) and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test, that are used to detect Chlamydia DNA in the sample. These test are considered more sensitive than traditional testing methods. The test results may be available in 1-2 business days.
It is important to note that some people with Chlamydia may have no symptoms and may not be aware that they have the infection. Therefore, regular screenings for Chlamydia are recommended for sexually active individuals, especially those at higher risk for the infection.
Prevention of Chlamydia Trachomatis
The most effective way to prevent chlamydia infection is to practice safe sex by using condoms or dental dams every time you have vaginal, anal, or oral sex. It’s also a good idea to limit the number of sexual partners you have, as the risk of infection increases with the number of people you have sex with. Getting tested regularly for STIs, especially if you have new or multiple partners, can also help detect the infection early and stop the spread. Additionally, it is recommended that people get a vaccine for HPV (Human papillomavirus) as it also helps to prevent some form of chlamydia. It is important to note that while these measures can greatly reduce the risk of infection, they are not 100% effective and chlamydia can still be contracted. Moreover douching is not a recommended practice for preventing chlamydia or any other sexually transmitted infection (STI). In fact, douching can actually increase the risk of infection by disrupting the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina.
Treatment of Chlamydia
Chlamydia Trachomatis is a curable disease. It can be treated with daily or multiple doses a day for a few days. It is generally treated within a week or two by antibiotics. During medications, abstaining from sex and douching are compulsory. If one partner has signs of Chlamydia and is taking medication, the antibiotic medication of the other partner is also necessary. Because if the other partner is not treated, the recurrence of the infection is likely. Because the infection may pass back and forth between sexual partners.
Meanwhile, having a Chlamydia infection in past does not prevent you from recurrence of the infection again.