Chlamydia is the most frequently reported STD out there, with more than a million new infections in America annually according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Caused by the bacterium chlamydia trachomatis, chlamydia infects the cervix in women and the urethra and rectum in both men and women (though sometimes it will show up elsewhere, like the throat or eyes). Because it's often asymptomatic, chlamydia testing is paramount for all sexually active persons, especially for women under the age of 26; doctors recommend yearly testing for them. Fortunately, chlamydia falls squarely under the “curable” category, and timely chlamydia testing can wipe the disease right out with no long-term effects.

Gender Bias

There's no question: chlamydia has a worse rap for women. Up to 75% of infected women will either have no symptoms or symptoms easily mistaken for other ailments (frequent urination, abdominal pain, irregular menstruation, etc.) Moreover, complications for untreated chlamydia are more serious for women, up to and including Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). This can severely damage the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries, dramatically increasing the chance of ectopic pregnancy, premature birth, or even infertility. Due to its severity and easily available treatments, women have no excuse not to investigate symptoms should they arise.

For men, on the other hand, chlamydia usually manifests telltale symptoms such as painful or swollen testicles, a cloudy discharge, and pain while urinating. Complications are less common in men and are typically limited to inflammation of the urethra or the testicles. This does not excuse men from seeking chlamydia testing. Every responsible, sexually active adult should take steps to limit exposure and identify troubling symptoms. Keep in mind that chlamydia is known as the “silent disease” for a reason: it often goes completely undetected, even in late stages with considerable reproductive impairment.

How Chlamydia Testing Works

Healthcare providers have a couple options when it comes to chlamydia testing. A site-specific swab can harvest samples for laboratory analysis from the urethra (men), cervix (women), or rectum (in the case of receptive anal sex). This type of chlamydia testing is the most reliable and most often administered to women, with results usually arriving within one week. For men, the favored chlamydia test involves a urine sample; these are more effective because the site of infection on a man is usually the urethra, through which urine must pass to produce a sample.

In the laboratory, chlamydia testing may involve growth cultures, DNA analysis, or antibody detection to acquire a definitive result. New medical technology has produced a rapid urine test for men, providing trustworthy results in one visit within one hour. Expect to see this chlamydia testing option become more widespread as time goes on.

On to Treatment!

Once a positive diagnosis is verified, treatment is relatively easy and predictable. Antibiotics such as azithromycin or doxycycline are prescribed, with the course of treatment lasting up to one week. It's important to notify your doctor if you have any medical allergies or if you are pregnant—this will provide crucial information to determine the course of treatment, including the choice of antibiotics. Be fastidious about taking antibiotic tablets, because an interrupted course of treatment usually means you have to start over.

Of course, no sexual intercourse of any type should take place between chlamydia testing and the completion of the antibiotic cycle. It is highly recommended that all sexual partners from the last 60 days also seek chlamydia testing, advising, and treatment. Otherwise, re-infection becomes likely, with dire reproductive health consequences. Anyone receiving treatment for chlamydia should follow up 3 months later with another chlamydia testing procedure to make sure the treatment was effective.

Author's Bio: 

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