chlamydia bacteria is an infection disease caused by the bacterium chlamydia trachomatis. This bacteria can infect the cervix in women and the urethra and rectum in both men and women. Occasionally chlamydia can also affect other parts of the body, including the throat and eyes.
Chlamydia often has no symptoms, especially among women. If left untreated, chlamydia can cause serious problems later in life.
What complications can result from chlamydia?
For women, if left untreated it can lead to:
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) - an infection of the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes. PID increases the future risk of ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy outside the womb) or premature birth. If the fallopian tubes are scarred, it can also lead to problems with fertility.
Cervicitis - an inflammation of the cervix. Symptoms include a yellowish vaginal discharge and pain during sex. In long-term cervicitis the cervix becomes very inflammed and cysts can develop and become infected. This can lead to deep pelvic pain and backache.
For men, if left untreated it can lead to:
Epididymitis - painful inflammation of the tube system that is part of the testicles, which can lead to infertility.
Urethritis - inflammation of the urine tube (urethra), causing a yellow or clear pus-like discharge to collect at the tip of the penis. Left untreated it can lead to a narrowing of the urethra, which can affect the ability to urinate easily and can potentially cause kidney problems.
Reactive arthritis - symptoms include inflammation of the joints, urethra and eyes.
In addition, if a pregnant woman has untreated chlamydia, the infection can potentially be passed on to a baby during pregnancy, giving it an eye or lung infection. Chlamydia can be safely treated during pregnancy provided the correct medicine are prescribed.