This is a sexually transmitted infection that is caused by Chlamydia trachomatis.

It is transmitted through unprotected vaginal, anal and oral sex. It can also be contacted through shared sex toys and from mother to child. The organism can be found in pre-ejaculate, semen and vaginal fluids.

The eye infection caused by this organism can be transferred through contact with affected eyes or nose, flies and towels. The eye infection cause by chlamydia (trachoma) is a leading cause of blindness in developing countries where there is poor hygiene, lack of water and poor sanitation.

Chlamydia is a very common sexually transmitted infection. About 131 million (100–166 million) new cases of chlamydia were recorded worldwide in 2015. About 4.2% of women and 2.7% of men are affected with the disease.

Symptoms

Many people (50% of men and 70% of women) with chlamydia usually don’t have symptoms. The symptoms begin to manifest between one to three weeks after infection. The symptoms include;

Increase in vaginal discharge

Penile discharge which can be white, cloudy or watery

Pain when urinating

Pain during sex and/or bleeding after sex

Lower abdominal pain – especially when having sex

Bleeding between periods and/or heavier periods.

Mother to child infection leads to conjunctivitis in the baby

 

Complications

In women it leads to;

Bartholin cyst; this is the inflammation of the gland that lubricates the vagina. It can also become infected and lead to an abscess.

Pelvic inflammatory disease; this is the infection of the uterus cervix and fallopian tubes

Cervicitis; inflammation of the cervix which is the outlet of the womb (uterus)

Infertility; this is usually due to blocked fallopian tubes. Chlamydia is one of the major causes of tubal obstruction in women.

In men it leads to;

Epididymitis; inflammation of the epididymis (tube at the back of the testis that stores and carries sperm).

Urethritis; inflammation of urinary outlet (urethra)

In men and women it can cause reactive arthritis which manifests as urethritis (painful urination), conjunctivitis and joint pain/swelling.

Treatment

Its important you visit your doctor for proper questioning and examination. Penile discharge from men and cervical swab from women can be collected for analysis in the laboratory.

Chlamydia can be treated with the use of antibiotics such as azithromycin.

Surgery may be needed to fix eye lid deformities that are associated with the infection of the eyes.

 

Prevention

Abstinence

Use of condom during sexual intercourse

Avoid multiple sexual partners.