STI fact sheet: Chlamydia

This is a common STI that is caused by bacteria and affects both men and women. If the left untreated, it can cause serious, permanent damage to a woman's reproductive organs. It is most common among young people especially young women below the age of 25.

It is transmitted through having oral, vaginal, or anal sex with an infected person. It can be transmitted even if the man does not ejaculate during intercourse. People who have been treated for chlamydia can also be re-infected if they have sex with an infected person. Chlamydia is a disease that can be transmitted to anyone that is sexually active. 

Unlike most STIs, it is a "silent" infection because it does not exhibit any symptoms. Sometimes, they take weeks to manifest after exposure at which point it may be at an advanced stage. This way, it causes a lot of damage before it can be remedied.  Some infected women have symptoms similar to bacterial vaginosis (BV) and if left untreated can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). For infected men, a discharge or burning sensation is common. In other cases, there is pain and swelling  in one or both testicles (Epididymitis). It can also cause rectal pain and bleeding if transmitted anally known as proctitis.

Chlamydia has been related to preterm delivery, pelvic inflammatory disease, deadly ectopic pregnancy, and irreparable damage to a woman's reproductive system which might lead to inability to bear children. It can also spread to the newborn causing eye infections or pneumonia.

Chlamydia can be prevented by the correct and consistent use of latex male condoms and having one sexual partner or abstinence.