Overview

Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases. It can affect both men and women of any age. Its symptoms may or may not be present. When the infection is asymptomatic or left untreated, it can lead to severe or life-threatening complications. Its symptoms can vary from mild to moderate or severe. Because it's a microbial infection, its treatment involves antibiotics prescription. To diagnose chlamydia, you can use a rapid STD test at home or go to a lab and undergo a similar procedure. One of the most common reasons why people get chlamydia is unprotected sex. Generally, having reckless sexual behaviors can lead you to acquire the disease. 

Pelvic inflammatory disease

An infection as chlamydia is not a static one. It can ascend and travel from the vagina up to the womb and fallopian tubes of women. Therefore, women may suffer from endometritis or salpingitis. This condition is pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID is a serious and life-threatening condition that could cause infertility. Also, PID raises a woman's chances of having an ectopic pregnancy. PID is an active and progressive infection that usually causes considerable pain. Men with urethritis caused by chlamydia might present with an ascending infection that may reach their prostate or testicles. 

Orchitis 

Orchitis is a complication of chlamydia infection that affects men. When a man has an asymptomatic STD caused by chlamydia infection, but without any symptoms, he might experience infection and inflammation of the testicles. Orchitis appears in those who don't know they have chlamydia or know but leave it untreated. It presents with swelling of one or both testicles, pain, fever, and nausea or vomiting. Symptoms may have an abrupt onset, and pain may range from mild to severe. 

Epididymitis

Epididymitis is also a complication that concerns men. The epididymis is an organ found in the male body, responsible for sperm storage and transfer. In men with untreated chlamydia infection, epididymitis is a common complication. Chlamydia in men usually starts in the urethra and migrates elsewhere in those who fail to treat it. Some symptoms of epididymitis include swelling of the scrotum, painful urination, penile discharge, or blood in the semen. Untreated acute epididymitis can lead to testicular infarction or abscess infection. Chronic forms can result in hypogonadism and infertility. 

Sexually acquired reactive arthritis or SARA

Sexually acquired reactive arthritis or SARA is a potential complication of untreated chlamydia infection. It is a form of reactive arthritis. These types of arthritis are a result of a reaction from the immune system. Men are more likely to develop the disease. SARA causes joint pain, stiffness, and swelling. It mostly affects the joints of the lower limbs. Men could also experience pain while urinating. You can make arthritis go away by treating the underlying infection. Pain relief medication and physical therapy may also be necessary to preserve movements and ease the pain. Severe cases might need additional therapeutic techniques. 

Perihepatitis or Fitz-Hugh-Curtis syndrome

Fitz-Hugh-Curtis syndrome is rare and appears almost always in females. It is an infectious complication that leads to inflammation around the liver. It starts abruptly with severe pain, accompanied by fever, nausea, vomiting, and night sweats. Movement exacerbates the pain, which is often debilitating. Another sign of perihepatitis is tenderness in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen. To diagnose Fitz-Hugh-Curtis syndrome, exclusion of other causes that lead to hepatitis is mandatory. The treatment is symptomatic and therapeutic, including antibiotics. A common complication of perihepatitis is adhesion formation, which is usually removed by the physicians. 

Chronic pelvic pain

Chronic pelvic pain is pain that appears in the pelvic area and lasts for more than six months. Causes of chronic pelvic pain may vary from menstruation to complicated, ascending infections. Treating chronic pelvic pain requires getting rid of the underlying cause. When the cause of chronic pelvic pain is untreated chlamydia infection, patients should receive antibiotics to fight the STD. If you suffer from chronic pelvic pain, you should test yourself for chlamydia. Get a rapid kit test and find out whether you have chlamydia at home. Make sure that the pain is not because of another medical condition. 

Proctitis or rectal infection

Sexually transmitted proctitis may result from chlamydia. Women or men who engage in unprotected anal sex are at high risk of developing proctitis. Considering that anal sex is a widely accepted and prevalent sexual preference in both heterosexuals and men who have sex with men, infectious proctitis is also quite common. The most common symptom of proctitis is a frequent or continuous urge to have a bowel movement. Pain and discharge are also prevalent too. Some additional symptoms and signs are the following:

  • tenesmus
  • urgency
  • bleeding 
  • constipation

Proctitis might coexist with colitis. In that case, we refer to proctocolitis. Proctocolitis presents with symptoms of proctitis accompanied by diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, and systemic symptoms. When the doctors exclude other causes, treatment of the underlying chlamydia infection is necessary. 

Prone to HIV infection

People with untreated chlamydia infection are predisposed to HIV. Individuals with any STD are susceptible to HIV infection due to open sores or lesions these infections produce. These small wounds serve as the gate to a transmission with an HIV infection. Those with both chlamydia and HIV are more likely to have an increased viral load due to weak immunity. An increased viral load will make you more infectious. Getting tested for both is of extreme importance.

Chlamydia and pregnancy

Pregnant women must get tested for chlamydia. As previously mentioned, chlamydia in women can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease. In return, this condition may result in ectopic pregnancy or infertility. Chronic pelvic pain is also a complication of both chlamydia and PID. Additionally, women with untreated chlamydia are at high risk of having a premature delivery of the baby. Finally, women who give birth but have untreated chlamydia might transmit the infection to the newborn. Newborns with chlamydia may suffer from an eye infection or conjunctivitis, and lung infection, such as pneumonia. These newborns might need antibiotics treatment. 

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