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Chlamydia (kla-MID-ee-ah) is a sexually transmitted infection (STI), caused by the bacteria (germ) Chlamydia trachomatis. Sexual intercourse, oral sex or any contact between a man's penis and a woman's vagina, can pass the germ from one person to another. It can also be spread during anal sex. If a pregnant woman has chlamydia, it can be passed to her baby during birth. Chlamydia can cause eye infections or pneumonia in the newborn baby.
Anyone who is sexually active has a chance of getting chlamydia. Those who have had more than one partner are at greater risk. Most people have no symptoms and do not realize they have the disease. They can give it to others without knowing it.
If chlamydia is not treated, it can be very serious. In females, an infection may spread to the uterus, tubes and ovaries. This may cause long-term pain, problems with pregnancy and may make a woman sterile (unable to have babies). This kind of infection is called PID (pelvic inflammatory disease).
In males, chlamydia can cause an inflammation of the urinary tube (urethra). If it is not treated, it can spread to the tube that carries sperm (epididymis). The infection can make a male sterile (unable to father a child).
Chlamydia can be in the body for a long time without any signs. If it does cause symptoms, females may feel some itching and burning in the vaginal area or they may have burning when they urinate. Some have a vaginal discharge, pain or bleeding after sex or between their periods. Females may have pain in the lower belly with fever, chills and vomiting.
If males have any symptoms, they may have painful urination and a watery discharge from the penis.
You and your partner(s) must be treated and you should wait for one week before having sexual intercourse. The treatment not only protects the sexual partner, it also prevents the person already being treated from getting chlamydia back again.
If you live in the Columbus area, your partner(s) can be treated at the Columbus City Health Department, located at 240 Parsons Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43215. The phone number is (614) 645-7772. If you live outside the Columbus area, call your local health department.
Abstinence (not having sex) is the only 100% effective way to prevent chlamydia, other STI's and HIV (the virus that causes AIDS). If you choose to have sex, you can do some things that might help prevent the spread of other STI's:
If you have any questions, call the Adolescent Medicine Clinic at (614) 722-2450. For more information, you may also call the National STD Hotline at 1-800-227-8922, 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., Monday through Friday or you can get information at http://www.ashastd.org/.
HH-I-38 11/85 Revised 3/09 Copyright 1985-2009, Nationwide Children’s Hospital