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Chlamydia trachomatis is a widespread bacteria which usually causes infections of the female genitourinary tract. It is considered a sexually transmitted disease (STD), but males develop the symptoms of chlamydia very rarely, due to the anatomical differences between male and female genitourinary systems.

Why Is Chlamydia So Special?

There has been a debate among scientists whether this organism should be classified as a bacterium or not. The reason for this is a different behavior in comparison to most other bacterial species. Namely, chlamydia mostly invades intracellular spaces (lives inside human cells), unlike most other bacterial species that remain in the intercellular space. This invasion is possible because chlamydia possesses particular mechanisms to invade human cells and to reproduce inside them, which is similar to the life cycle of viruses.

Symptoms Of A Chlamydia Infection

Symptoms of a chlamydia infection in women are much more pronounced than in men. Women usually experience lower abdominal pain, yellow vaginal discharge with bad odor, possible bleeding outside of periods, irritation during urination, pain during intercourse, and urgency to urinate. If the infection is more intense or untreated, systemic symptoms can also appear, such as increased body temperature and fever.

In men, the symptoms are usually milder and include burning sensations during urination, possible discharge from the urethra, and swelling of the testicles.

It is important to note that 75% of women and 50% of men with chlamydia infections do not experience any symptoms at all. 

The problem is sexual transmission to another person who does or does not develop symptoms.

Diagnosis

Because of the high incidence of asymptomatic chlamydia infections, the Centers for Disease Control recommend regular screening for chlamydia for certain groups of people, which include sexually active women, pregnant women, and men and women who often change sexual partners. 

Bacterial count in the standard urine test can suggest the presence of chlamydia. After that, women usually undergo a Pap smear test. Testing in men is performed by taking a swab from the end part of the urethra.

Treatment

Chlamydia trachomatis is very sensitive to antibiotics, given that the appropriate choice of antibiotic treatment is made. After the initial course of antibiotics, less than 5% of patients require additional treatment. The most effective antibiotics for the treatment of chlamydia are macrolide antibiotics, such as azithromycin (Zithromax) and tetracycline antibiotics, such as doxycycline. Depending on the severity of the infection and the type of antibiotic prescribed, the treatment may last from 1 to 7 days. If you are allergic to any of the prescribed antibiotics, please make sure to inform your doctor so that you can receive another antibiotic.

A critical note is that you should not engage in sexual intercourse during the antibiotic treatment. That is also true for your partner.

It is recommended to retake the test approximately three months after finishing the treatment.

Side Effects Of Antibiotic Treatment

As with any other medication, you can experience an allergy to some of the components of antibiotics, in which case you should contact your doctor and change the treatment. The allergy symptoms usually appear in the form of rash or swelling, and are rarely as severe anaphylactic reactions.

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