Chlamydia is an infection caused by a bacterium, Chlamydia trachomatis, which lives exclusively within the cellular cytoplasm and is transmitted by sexual intercourse. Initially considered a virus, due to its nature as an obligatory cellular parasite, in 1966, thanks to the observation with an electron microscope, it proved to be equipped not only with DNA and RNA but also with ribosomes and a membrane typical of bacteria.
Whatever antibiotic therapy is undertaken under medical advice to combat STDs, it is very important to extend it to one’s own or to one’s sexual partners, in order to avoid the spread of infection.
Chlamydia trachomatis infection affects humans only and is transmitted through vaginal, anal and oral sexual relations, through contact with the secretions of the genital mucosa or through the sperm of an infected person. Chlamydia is one of the STDs present in about 3.2% of the population, with prevalence in men (8.4%) compared to women (2.4%).
Sexual habits, therefore, play a decisive role in the incidence of infection. Particularly at risk are young adults and adolescents sexually active and who do not use barrier methods of contraception (such as condoms), which tend to change often sexual partners, who have multiple partners.
What are the symptoms of chlamydia?
Chlamydia is called silent infection. According to a surveillance-sentinel system of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), based on the diagnoses carried out by a network of public specialist centers, more than a third of the carriers are asymptomatic and, among these, the largest share is represented from women and, among women, from non-pregnant women. It is estimated, more presumably, however, that the affected but asymptomatic persons are more than 50%.
When Chlamydia becomes symptomatic, usually 1-3 weeks after the infection, the most frequent clinical picture in both sexes is urethritis, characterized by urinary burning and frequent and painful urination.
In humans it can occur with a urethral secretion of variable color, from white to light gray; in a limited number of cases, there is an acute inflammation of the epididymis with testicular pain and swelling.
In women, the infection of STDs, even when it is symptomatic, can be more subtle and present itself with the characteristics of banal bacterial vaginitis, with the vaginal discharge of the yellowish leucorrhea type, sometimes associated with burning and with eventual postcoital or intermenstrual bleeding.
Tests to diagnose the Chlamydia
To make a diagnosis it is necessary to undergo a test that involves the collection, with a cotton swab, of a small amount of material in the area to be tested (cervix, vagina, penis, anus), to be sent to an analytical laboratory.