Chlamydia is a kind of sexually transmitted disease which affects both women and men. It is generally treatable but should be treated in the early stages else can lead to complications. It spreads by indulging in unsafe or unprotected sex with a partner who is infected with this disease.
Many people have the misconception that chlamydia spreads through kissing but that is a false conception. Chlamydia does not spread through kissing and one cannot get chlamydia by kissing.
Chlamydia is one of the most common STDs reported so far. Sexually active women aged between 14 to 24 are more likely to get infected with it.
Symptoms of Chlamydia
- Foul smelling discharge from the penis or vagina
- Burning sensation while passing urine
- Swelling or pain in the testicles
- Painful and unusual sore in the genitals or around the genitals
- Bleeding from anus
- Pain in the rectum
- Bleeding between periods from vagina
- Newborns may get infected with pneumonia or eye infections.
The symptoms vary from person to person and sometimes it takes a couple of weeks for the symptoms to appear after engaging in sex with person infected with chlamydia. Sometimes the symptoms do not show up in people infected with chlamydia for months together.
Causes of Chlamydia
It is caused by bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. This bacterium is found in vaginal fluid and semen. It is not spread through kissing, sharing or drinking from same glasses or by hugging. It causes inflammatory diseases in the pelvic area and causes inflammation in the cervical region.
How does Chlamydia spread?
- Chlamydia can spread if a person has unprotected sex with a partner infected by chlamydia. Unprotected sex is sex without the use of condoms. It can also spread by oral sex or anal sex.
- A woman infected with the disease can spread it through childbirth to her child
- Even if the male partner doesn’t ejaculate, having sex with him if he is infected can lead to the spread of the disease.
- One may get chlamydia even after getting treated for it before.
Can chlamydia spread through kissing?
It’s a common misconception that Chlamydia can spread through kissing an infected person. But this is not true. Kissing does not directly transmit chlamydia. But if there are cuts in the mouth, then certain other problems can spread through the saliva passing through the cuts like common cold, viral infections, herpes simplex virus, influenza, fever, hepatitis B, tooth decay, meningitis, cytomegalovirus and many such other diseases.
When not treated properly and timely, chlamydia can lead to serious health complications. If left untreated in women, it spreads from the genital area to the uterus and fallopian tubes causing a lot of damage to the reproductive system.
Such a woman may find a lot of difficulty in conceiving and may become permanently infertile. She may also have increased chances of ectopic pregnancy i.e. Pregnancy outside the uterus. If left untreated, chlamydia may also increase the person’s chances of catching the HIV virus.
As compared to women, men generally do not face a lot of complications with chlamydia. In rare cases, fever can result if the infection has reached the tubes which carry sperm from testicles. But this infection does not affect the man’s ability to bear children.
The doctor might ask you to get certain lab tests done like urine samples or vaginal cotton swab to confirm chlamydia infection. The doctor will advise you to refrain from sex during the treatment period. It is generally cured within two weeks.
Your doctor might prescribe antibiotics to treat chlamydia. There are certain medications which are enough in a single dose and some others which need to be taken for a week regularly. A one-dose pill particularly requires the patient to avoid having sex for a week after taking the pill.
Once the initial symptoms have cleared up, the patient is advised to get himself checked again after three months to prevent recurrence.
This disease can be easily prevented by not indulging in unsafe or unprotected sex with an infected partner. Anal sex and oral sex can also spread the infection.
Listed below are some rules which should be followed while having sex:
- Always use condoms while having sex. This will not only prevent you from spreading or contracting STDs but will also prevent you from unwanted pregnancies. There are male latex condoms and female condoms available at pharmacists.
- Have sex with a single partner only or limit the number of partners you have sex with to prevent the risk of exposure.
- Douche is particularly harmful for woman as it increases the chances of contracting infections. It also decreases the quantity of good bacteria present in the vagina.
- Early detection and routine tests should be done regularly if you are sexually active. This prevents the spread of STDs such as herpes and HIV. Routine tests help in early detection and early treatment. A woman under 25 years of age who is sexually active should get herself tested for chlamydia every year as advised by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.
How can one kiss safely?
There are certain rules for safe kissing which help in preventing infections.
- Kissing should be avoided if any of the partners have open sores in the mouth.
- Open cuts in or around the mouth in any of the partners indicates the need to avoid kissing. Germs and bacteria can easily spread through cuts and wounds.
- Avoid kissing a sick person or if you are sick yourself.
- Biting during kissing should also be avoided as it increases the chances of bacterial spreading.
- You can just avoid kissing directly on the genitals or lips if any of the partners are suffering from an illness. It can be resumed once both the partners are healthy. Though one cannot catch any serious illness via kissing, it should be avoided during a certain disease or illness.
- Only herpes has been known so far to be transmitted through kissing.
Can the disease reoccur?
Chlamydia can easily reoccur even if you have had it in the past and have got yourself treated for it. It does not have any vaccination for it and the only way to prevent it is to practice safe sex.
The doctor suggests the person to use a sample of his or her body fluid to detect the presence of chlamydia bacteria.
The most common tests are:
- NAAT – Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests: In this test a genetic material – DNA of the bacteria is found. This test is very good to detect the bacteria responsible for chlamydia. A positive test result marks the presence of disease. A PCR test – Polymerase Chain Reaction test is a kind of NAAT test which uses a urine sample.
- Chlamydia Culture: This test is done to detect the bacteria responsible for chlamydia infection. In this test, a certain sample of body fluid from areas like the cervix, eye, rectum, throat or urethra is added to certain other cells to see if chlamydia grows. If the cells do not get infected with chlamydia then the culture is negative and the person is not infected. These results take around 5 to 7 days longer than other tests.
Often before the test, the doctor will advise you to collect urine sample or fluid from areas of the body that are most likely infected. The doctor will also advise you not to urinate for 2 hours before the sample is collected and might ask you collect a direct sample from the cervix of a woman. Such a woman is also instructed not to douche, use vaginal creams or medications for 24 hours before taking the test.
How are the tests done?
To collect the body fluid the procedure differs in men and women:
- For men: The doctor will insert a swab into the opening of the rectum or the urethra to collect a sample of the body fluid. A sample from the urethra will have higher possibility of the bacteria only if the man has not urinated for more than 2 hours before taking the sample.
- For women: The doctor will ask the woman to remove her clothes waist down and drape a cloth over herself. The doctor will raise your feet and support them high on stirrups to enable her to get a better view of your genitals. Next, a lubricated speculum camera will be inserted in to the vagina to enable a better view of the cervix as the speculum spreads the vaginal walls gently apart. Samples are then collected with the help of a cotton swab. This might cause mild discomfort.
- For eyes: The doctor will gently brush the upper and lower eyelids gently with a swab to get some fluid from the eyes. This can be painful if the eyelids have sores on them.
Different tests are prescribed for different people according to the need. It is suggested to get oneself checked early to rule out any further complications and prevent spreading the disease to others.