Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease. It is caused by a bacterium called chlamydia Trachomatis.
Chlamydia can be passed from one person to another through sexual contact. It can infect the throat, cervix, urethra (urine tube), or anal tissue of either sex. It can be passed to babies during the birthing process; this infection usually occurs in the infant's eyes. Chlamydia can be passed between any two people having sex without respect to gender.
Chlamydia can be detected by a swab test or a urine test. It is often treated with 1g of Zithromax in a single dose. It may also be treated with antibiotics taken over longer periods (Doxycyline over twice a day for seven days is one alternative) but cure rates are best when the one dose treatment is applied. The partner(s) of the infected person should be identified and offered testing and treatment as well.
Chlamydia is usually asymptomatic in men and women - that is, no unusual signs or symptoms appear. However, untreated chlamydia can go on to infect the reproductive organs of women, leading to inflammation of the fallopian tubes or ovaries. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) is often the result of an untreated sexually transmitted infection in women. PID is painful, can require medical intervention beyond oputpatient treatment, and can also leave a women infertile. In some cases, women with untreated PID suffer a ruptured organ in much the way an appendecitis sufferer might. This can be fatal. In general, with rare exceptions, men do not suffer bad outcomes or even uncomfortable symptoms of chlamyida.
Due to its asymptomatic nature and high rates in women and especially young women in the US, testing for chlamydia is generally routine when pelvic exams are done. Also, when other STDs such as gonorrhea are detected, chlamydia treatment is often given at the same time.
If you suspect you may have been exposed to chlamydia, you should go to your physician. If you live in or near a big city, you should be able to find low or no cost testing and treatment through the city health department. In more rural areas, you may be able to go to a county clinic or, if you are a woman, a planned parenthood clinic. In all cases, your records and treatment should be highly confidential. Don't let embarassment prevent you from getting treated for a potentially life-altering condition.
Preventing chlamydia and many other STDs is simple. Properly using a condom every time you have any kind of sex will prevent transmission of most STDs - gonorrhea, chlamydia and HIV for sure. They also offer very good but not foolproof protection against herpes, warts and syphilis. Your best bet is to remain in a committed, mutually monogamous sexual relationship AND use condoms to be sure.