Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria and transmitted by oral, anal or vaginal sex. It is one of the most commonly transmitted STIs, with 1,244,180 cases reported to the Center for Disease Control in 2009. The reason it is so prevalent is Chlamydia's lack of obvious symptoms. Most men and women don't have symptoms. When symptoms are present, they are usually different in men and women.
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Both men and women experience pain during urination and genital discharge. The pain is often described as a burning-type pain and can make urination difficult. Sometimes frequent urination accompanies the burning pain. Discharge due to Chlamydia is generally thick and off-white in colour. In some cases, it has a foul odour to it caused by the bacteria. Both men and women can have itching associated with the discharge.
Signs in Men
Men will often experience tenderness in the testicles, which will feel sore when touched. Sometimes the testicles will become swollen as well. General pain around the opening of the penis, not associated with urination, can also be present. Uncommonly, men will experience aching joints.
Signs in Women
Women with Chlamydia often present with pelvic pain and lower back pain. The pain is generally constant and described as a dull ache. Increased pain during sexual intercourse is a common symptom. Some women will experience spotting or bleeding between periods. Rectal pain and discharge are present if Chlamydia infection in the cervix spreads to the rectum. Women are more likely to experience systemic symptoms, such as nausea, fever and chills, as well.
Many people do not have acute symptoms of Chlamydia infection, but they may experience long-term signs if the Chlamydia goes untreated. In women, repeated episodes of ectopic pregnancy, infertility and chronic pelvic pain may be signs of a long-term Chlamydial infection. Men may experience ejaculation with less semen or no semen at all. This is due to Chlamydia's scarring the epididymis. Both men and women can develop Reiter's syndrome, which presents with arthritis, conjunctivitis and skin lesions. Reiter's syndrome is a very rare sign of Chlamydia.
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