Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by bacteria. It affects both men and women, but as many as 96% of people with chlamydia experience no symptoms and are unaware, they are infected.
When left untreated, chlamydia can lead to serious complications, especially for women. Read on to understand more about the cause of chlamydia, its symptoms, diagnosis & treatment, how it affects the eyes, home remedies that help, and what women can do to avoid contracting chlamydia as well as other STIs.
Causes & Transmission of Chlamydia
Chlamydia is caused by the presence of bacteria known as chlamydia trachomatis and is transmitted from one person to another during unprotected vaginal sex, anal sex, oral sex, or genital contact without penetration.
While vaginal sex, anal sex, and genital contact will typically infect the vaginal area and anus in women, oral sex with an infected partner can also infect the throat.
Research statistics also show that women are twice more likely to contract chlamydia than men, however, symptoms, if they do occur, can typically take a few weeks to manifest.
Symptoms Of Chlamydia
While the majority of women with chlamydia notice no symptoms, the most common symptoms for those who do include; a burning sensation when peeing, yellow or green vaginal discharge with a foul or fishy odor, lower abdomen pain, cervix inflammation, pain during sex, and spotting between periods.
Chlamydia is also known to affect the rectal area, causing pain around the rectum, itching, rectal discharge, and bleeding. When chlamydia has been contracted from oral sex, symptoms include a sore throat, cough, and fever.
It is important to note that symptoms of chlamydia differ for men and women, so if you notice any of the above-mentioned symptoms but your partner has different or no symptoms, it’s still a good idea to schedule a test with your healthcare provider for testing.
How Does Chlamydia Effect the Eyes?
Even though chlamydia is more frequently diagnosed in the genital area, it can also affect the eyes through direct or indirect contact with infected genitals.
Referred to as Inclusion Chlamydia or Chlamydial Conjunctivitis, symptoms of this type of bacterial infection include redness and irritation in the eyes, inflamed eyelids, itching, mucous discharge, and sensitivity to bright light.
Is Chlamydia Common?
Yes, it is. According to the World Health Organization, chlamydia is the most commonly contracted STI in the world for sexually active people between the age of 15 and 49, with the highest rate of infection recorded in young women aged between 15 and 24.
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) estimate that women are more likely to contract chlamydia. The risk of infection is heightened for women if they have previously had chlamydia and are engaging in unprotected sex with new partners, and when another infection has lowered the resistance of the immune system or altered the vaginal pH balance.
Because chlamydia is often a silent infection with no outwardly noticeable symptoms, it is vitally important that sexually active women are tested at least once per year for STIs.
How Do You Test for Chlamydia?
Testing for chlamydia can be done at home or in the privacy of your doctor’s clinic. Doctors will swab the areas they suspect are infected including the vagina, rectum, throat, or eyes, and send the swabs to a lab for testing.
Home testing kits for chlamydia are similar in that you do the swab yourself and send the results to a lab for testing. Either way, results are normally back within a few days.
Can Chlamydia Be Cured?
Yes, after lab tests have confirmed the presence of chlamydia, doctors will prescribe antibiotics as treatment and it is important not to engage in intercourse during this time. Once the course of antibiotics has been completed, the infection is usually cleared.
However, healthcare providers typically request patients to return for a second test three months later to confirm the infection has cleared and to rule out re-infection.
How Soon Can You Have Sex After Chlamydia?
Antibiotic treatment for chlamydia usually lasts for two weeks. Once completed, it is recommended to abstain from sex for a further seven days to ensure the infection has cleared and you don’t run the risk of passing it on.
It is also important to inform any recent sexual partners of your chlamydia diagnosis so they can seek treatment and insist that any current partners receive treatment before you have sex together again.
Furthermore, taking medication to treat chlamydia does not mean you cannot contract it again. It will return if you have unprotected sex with an infected partner.
What Happens If Chlamydia Is Left Untreated?
When chlamydia is left untreated it can result in severe repercussions for the female reproductive system, such as; pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), blocked fallopian tubes due to scar tissue, infertility, ectopic pregnancies, and long-lasting pelvic or abdominal pain. Untreated chlamydia is also believed to increase the risk of women contracting HIV.
Additionally, when chlamydial conjunctivitis in the eyes is left untreated, it is known to be the most common cause of preventable blindness.
Because chlamydia is asymptomatic for most people, the damage it does to the female reproductive system initially goes unnoticed, but once the damage is done, it is usually irreversible. For all sexually active women, the only sure way to detect a chlamydia infection is to schedule regular STI testing either at home or at your doctor’s clinic.
Natural Remedies for Chlamydia
STIs always require medication as treatment, however, some natural remedies are also proving helpful in preventing infection and making the healing process more comfortable.
Female Probiotics - It is a commonly known fact that probiotics improve gut health and digestion, however, they’ve also proved beneficial for balancing vaginal pH levels and keeping genital infections at bay. Here at Intimate Rose, we’ve added cranberry and D-Mannose to our Flora Bloom Feminine Probiotics which make it even more difficult for infections to set in.
Boric Acid Suppositories - This natural supplement comes highly recommended by holistic female health experts as an accompaniment to the prescribed antibiotic treatment for vaginal infections including bacterial vaginosis (BV), trichomoniasis, and chlamydia.
As well as relieving itching and burning during urination, vaginal boric acid suppositories promote the perfect acid balance in the vagina and help to kill harmful bacteria.
Further tips to prevent chlamydia include washing the genital area with warm water and fragrance-free soap every day instead of douching with synthetic products that upset the natural pH balance in the vagina.
And wearing condoms for every sexual encounter is a must to avoid chlamydia. However, because condoms are not always reliable, scheduling regular STI tests is the best way to ensure that chlamydia is not left untreated.
Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the world and is twice as frequent in women as it is in men. Although it is easily cured, if left untreated, chlamydia can cause severe complications and damage to the female reproductive system as well as increase the risk of contracting HIV.
Because the majority of people experience no symptoms of chlamydia, it is vital for anyone sexually active with several partners to schedule regular STI tests and avoid long-term complications.
National Library of Medicine – Chlamydia Genital Infections - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5354567/
World Health Organization – Sexually Transmitted Infections - https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/sexually-transmitted-infections-(stis)
National Library of Medicine – Chlamydia - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537286/
World Health Organization – Guidelines for Treating Chlamydia - https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/246165/9789241549714-eng.pdf
National Library of Medicine - Chlamydial Eye Infections - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5381307/
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention – Pelvic Inflammatory Disease - https://www.cdc.gov/std/pid/stdfact-pid-detailed.htm
National Library of Medicine – Probiotics for Vaginal Health - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9366906/
National Library of Medicine – Boric Acid For Vaginal Infections - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4514959/