The good news about Chlamydia is that it is treatable and fairly easily. The problem is recognizing and diagnosing it. Because it so often causes no symptoms, Chlamydia is often overlooked in routine examinations when doctors have no reason to look for it. Nor do most people think of asking a doctor to check to see if they might have Chlamydia until it has caused permanent damage.
How do they treat Chlamydia?
Chlamydia is killed by antibiotics. The most common antibiotics prescribed are doxicycline and azithormycin. A doctor may also prescribe erythromycin or another antibiotic. Penicillin and other antibiotics in the cillin family are not effective against Chlamydia.
When doxicycline is prescribed it is usually a one-dose treatment. Other antibiotics will be prescribed for either 5, 7 or 10 days, depending on the antibiotic. Its important that you take all the medicine as prescribed, and do not have unprotected sex with anyone until treatment is complete and youve been checked to be sure that the antibiotics worked.
It is also vitally important that all of your sexual partners be checked and treated, even if they show no symptoms. Because your body doesnt develop any appreciable immunity to Chlamydia, its not uncommon for two partners to pass the infection back and forth between them unless both are treated at the same time.
Who should get tested for Chlamydia?
Obviously, if you are having symptoms of Chlamydia and you are sexually active, you should be screened for Chlamydia. Because Chlamydia doesnt cause any symptoms in as many as 80% of those who have it, though, waiting for symptoms may not be good enough. Several countries routinely screen teens and young adults for Chlamydia, and some test all pregnant women.
Chlamydia is transmitted through sexual contact. Like most other sexually transmitted diseases, it can be passed on through direct contact. Penetration is not necessary. Any skin to skin contact can transfer the bacteria that causes Chlamydia between two sexual partners.
If you are sexually active, you may be at risk. If you have recently begun having sex with a new partner, or if you have had more than two partners in the past year, your risk is greater than if you are in a monogamous relationship. According to the most recent estimates by the CDC, as much as 10% of the sexually active adult population is infected with Chlamydia. You should be tested for Chlamydia if:
– You are sexually active and have never been tested.
– You have recently begun having unprotected sex with a new partner.
– You have had unprotected sex with more than two partners in the past year.
– You have any of the symptoms of Chlamydia.
– You have been sexually active with someone who has been diagnosed with Chlamydia.
How do they check for Chlamydia?
Until recently, the only way to check for Chlamydia involved a direct tissue sample. For women, that meant a cervical swab, similar to the one thats taken for a PAP smear. For men, it meant taking a sample with a cotton swab inserted into the urethra. Those tests are still the most commonly used and give the most accurate results.
A newer test can detect Chlamydia in a urine sample, but it is less accurate and more expensive, so it is used less often. If the symptoms indicate an oral or anal infection, the doctor will use a cotton swab to take samples from the throat or rectum. The samples will be sent to a lab and analyzed. If the doctor has a strong suspicion that you have Chlamydia, he may prescribe that you start treatment before the lab results are in.