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Understanding chlamydia, a silent sexually-transmitted disease with no symptoms

Updated on:6 April 2020, 18:32pm IST
One of the most common STDs in women, chlamydia doesn’t always show symptoms-but it can cause long-term damage to the reproductive system.
Dr Deepa Dewan
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Even oral sex can give you STI such as Chlamydia. Image courtesy: Shutterstock.

Did you know that chlamydia is one of the most common sexually-transmitted diseases in women? In fact, many news sources claim that over a million cases of this STD are reported in India every year. But what’s scarier is that chlamydia doesn’t always show symptoms in women. 

Caused by a bacteria, chlamydia trachomatis, it can infect both men and women and spreads through unprotected vaginal, anal, and oral sex. However, sexually active young people are at a higher risk of getting this disease, mostly due to lifestyle and biological factors. 

What you need to understand about this “silent” infection
Most people who have chlamydia have no symptoms. If you do have symptoms, they may not appear until several weeks after you have sex with an infected partner. Even when chlamydia causes no symptoms, it can damage your reproductive system.

Chlamydia can wreck the health of your vagina. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Women who are showing the symptoms of chlamydia infection may notice:

This is how chlamydia spreads
One of the new non-viral STDs, chlamydia spreads through sexual activity. So you can get it through:

  • Unprotected vaginal, anal, and/or oral sex
  • Sharing sex toys that are not washed or covered with a fresh condom each time they’re used
  • Your genitals coming in contact with an infected partner’s genitals, even if there is no penetration, orgasm or ejaculation
  • Infected semen or vaginal fluid getting into your eye

If you’ve had chlamydia and were treated in the past, you can still get infected again.

intimate hygiene tips
If you don’t want your vagina to ghost you, keep her healthy and happy. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

These few measures can reduce your risk of contracting chlamydia:

  • Using a condom every time you have vaginal or anal sex
  • Using a condom to cover the penis during oral sex
  • Using a dam (a piece of thin, soft plastic or latex) to cover female genitals during oral sex
  • Not sharing sex toys

    Sex toys
    They’re not a taboo but use them carefully. Image courtesy: Shutterstock.

Does chlamydia have a cure?
Chlamydia can be cured with the right treatment. It is important that you take the complete course of the medication (antibiotics) your doctor prescribes to cure your infection. When taken properly it will stop the infection and can decrease your chances of having complications later on.

What are the complications associated with chlamydia?
The initial damage that chlamydia causes often goes unnoticed. However, chlamydia can lead to serious health problems. Untreated chlamydia can spread to a woman’s uterus and fallopian tubes. This can cause PID (pelvic inflammatory disease)

PID often has no symptoms, however, some women may experience abdominal and pelvic pain. Even if it doesn’t cause symptoms initially, PID can cause permanent damage to your reproductive system. PID can also lead to long-term pelvic pain, infertility, and ectopic pregnancy.

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Dr Deepa Dewan Dr Deepa Dewan

Dr Deepa Dewan is an associate director & head of unit at Max Hospital, Gurgaon. She has over 25 years of clinical experience in all kinds of obstetrics & gynaecological surgeries. Vast experience in handling low risk as well as high-risk deliveries with good outcomes.