Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. According to the Centers for Disease Control, chlamydia is the most commonly reported bacterial STD in the United States.
Since 1994, it has represented the largest share of all STDs reported to the CDC. In 2013 alone, more than 1.4 million chlamydia infections were reported, but because chlamydia is often asymptomatic, it is estimated that the true number of infections is over 2.8 million. Sexually active women under the age of 25 are at especially high risk.
If you are pregnant and have chlamydia, there are special concerns for you and your baby. Let’s take a look at some basic facts about this disease and what to do if you are infected during pregnancy.
What Are the Symptoms of Chlamydia in Women?
Most cases of chlamydia are asymptomatic — meaning infected persons experience no noticeable symptoms in its early stages. It is estimated that about 75% of infections in women and 50% of those in men do not have symptoms.
When symptoms do occur, they tend to appear about one to three weeks after infection.
Here are the most commonly reported chlamydia symptoms in women:
- Vaginal discharge that may have an odor
- Bleeding between periods
- Painful periods
- Abdominal pain
- Pain when having sex
- Itching or burning near the vagina
- Pain when urinating
If you have recently had sex and experience any of these symptoms, you can contact ACPC. We provide free testing for chlamydia and other STDs.
Can Chlamydia Be Cured?
If diagnosed early, chlamydia can sometimes be cured with oral antibiotics.
With treatment, chlamydia may clear up within a few weeks. You must finish all of your antibiotics, even after symptoms disappear, and your sex partner(s) should also be tested and treated to reduce the risk of spreading the disease. Many women experience severe chlamydia and must be hospitalized to receive intravenous antibiotics.
You should be retested after completing your treatment to confirm whether your infection is cured. Do not have sex again until you receive a negative chlamydia test.
If left untreated, chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can cause chronic pelvic pain and damage your fallopian tubes. PID increases your risk of ectopic pregnancy, which occurs when the baby implants and develops outside of your uterus. Other long-term complications include infertility and an increased risk of premature birth if you do become pregnant in the future.
What if I Have Chlamydia While Pregnant?
Chlamydia during pregnancy can result in low birth weight and is often transmitted from mother to child during delivery. If the baby becomes infected, he or she will often suffer from infections of the eyes, lungs, or other areas.
Remember, if you are pregnant you can still become infected with STDs. If you become infected while pregnant, the consequences can be serious, and even life-threatening, for you and your baby. That’s why STD testing should be part of your regular prenatal care, so that if you do test positive, treatment can begin as early as possible.
Pregnant women who have chlamydia may experience the following symptoms:
- Vaginal discharge
- Bleeding after you have sex
- Itching or burning during urination
- Preterm labor
- Premature rupture of membranes protecting your baby in your uterus
If you are pregnant and experience these symptoms, you should be tested for chlamydia. ACPC can answer your questions and provide a free chlamydia test.
How Can I Keep from Getting Chlamydia?