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Chlamydia is called the silent enemy because its course is asymptomatic in most patients, which makes it difficult to diagnose. More often, women are asymptomatic carriers. The lack of diagnosis, respectively, the lack of adequate, timely treatment leads to infertility. In fact, being infected with chlamydia and not treating the infection are the leading causes of the inability to conceive. This makes recognizing and detecting the disease essential to preserving reproductive functions.
Chlamydia are sexually transmitted microorganisms. They belong to the group of obligate intracellular parasites. The genus Chlamydia has two species. The species Chlamydia trachomatis causes infertility and imperceptibly and quietly damages the reproductive organs of women while the symptoms can be non-specific, minimal, and most often not displayed at all.
The infection spreads during sexual contact, including oral and anal intercourse. Another route of infection is for it to be passed from an infected mother to her baby during childbirth. Infection can be especially dangerous for the newborn, as it causes complications – conjunctivitis, interstitial pneumonia, and others. Promiscuous people who have unprotected sex are particularly vulnerable, and so are young girls, due to the structure of their anatomy.
A high percentage of women are carriers of the disease without symptoms. If symptoms are present at all, they include:
About 50% of men infected with chlamydia also have no symptoms. If symptoms are present, they include a burning sensation when urinating, frequent urges to urinate, genital discharge that usually occurs in the morning, pain in the testicles.
Diagnosing the disease is not easy, considering the lack of symptoms in many cases. Once suspected, it can be easily diagnosed and successfully treated. There are two types of chlamydia tests – secretions from the urethra or the cervical canal and blood tests. Due to the high percentage of latent infections and patients who do not show symptoms, safe sexual intercourse, lack of indiscriminate sex, and systematic testing for chlamydia at least once a year, even in the absence of symptoms, are essential. Chlamydia testing is mandatory for pregnant women. Women over the age of 20, as well as younger people who are sexually active and have more than one partner, should be screened and tested for chlamydia at least once a year so that action can be taken if an infection is found and in order to protect their reproductive health.
The most serious complication of untreated chlamydia is infertility. The infection, when unrecognized and untreated, leads to obstruction of the fallopian tubes. Pipe obstruction is one of the leading causes of female infertility.
Another complication caused by the infection is an ectopic pregnancy, which carries huge risks for the woman. The infection is also responsible for the loss of an embryo, as well as for premature birth if the mother is infected.
Chlamydia can also infect the eyes, joints, and liver. The occurrence of arthritis and conjunctivitis as a result is more common in men.
The disease is treated with antibiotics. Since reinfection is possible after the chlamydia has been cured if the other partner is not yet completely healthy, both partners need to be extra careful and undergo treatment simultaneously. It is imperative, even if one of the partners does not show symptoms. The treatment is performed under the control and supervision of specialists – a urologist and a gynecologist.
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