Chlamydia is the most commonly reported bacterial sexually transmitted infection in the United States. According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were nearly 1.6 million reported cases in 2020. The actual number of infections is likely more than 4 million, as many infected people do not experience symptoms, and therefore do not seek medical attention, leaving them undiagnosed while still capable of spreading the infection.
If you’re sexually active, it’s important to understand chlamydia symptoms so that you can seek treatment as soon as possible and avoid infecting others.
The most common chlamydia symptoms can be found in both women and men. These include burning sensation during urination, sores around the infected area and discharge from the genitals. Women may also experience bleeding between periods, while men might also experience pain and swelling in one or both testicles.
Chlamydia can also infect the rectum, possibly leading to rectal pain, discharge and bleeding.
Chlamydia without Symptoms
As mentioned above, chlamydia infections often occur with no symptoms at all. Two CDC studies projected that only about 10% of men and 5-30% of women with a confirmed chlamydia infection develop symptoms.
Symptomless chlamydia is still very dangerous, as infected people are likely to continue engaging in sexual activity without first being treated, thus spreading the infection to others.
Additionally, left undiagnosed and untreated, chlamydia can lead to long-term health issues in women, including pelvic inflammatory disease, tubal factor infertility, ectopic pregnancy and
chronic pelvic pain.
Who Gets Chlamydia?
While anyone who is sexually active can contract chlamydia, reported cases are most common among adolescents and young adults. In 2020, more than 60% of reported cases occurred in people ages 15-24. Women in this age group are more than twice as likely than men to report an infection. This likely has more to do with the presence of symptoms than an actual difference in the rate of infection.
People aged 25 and older are, of course, similarly susceptible to contracting chlamydia, accounting for nearly 600,000 reported cases a year. In this older population, the disparity of reported cases between women and men narrows considerably.
When to Get Tested
If you or your sexual partner experience any of the symptoms described above, it’s a good idea to be tested for chlamydia. These could potentially be symptoms of chlamydia or another sexually transmitted infection, like gonorrhea (another of the most common STI/STDs in the U.S.).
Since a chlamydia infection may be present even without symptoms, the CDC recommends yearly testing for any sexually active female younger than 25 years old. Older women should also be tested yearly if they have new or multiple sex partners. Pregnant women should always be tested early in pregnancy.
Sexually active homosexual men should also be tested yearly, more frequently if they have multiple partners.
How to Get Tested
In Gainesville, Sira provides free, confidential testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea. Testing is available for women and men, and there’s no insurance required.
To schedule your free test, contact Sira today at 352-377-4947.