What is Chlamydia?
Chlamydia is a common infection of the reproductive organs caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. Chlamydia is sexually transmitted, through vaginal, oral or anal sex. Chlamydia can be also passed from mother to child during birth, causing eye infections or pneumonia.
What are the symptoms of Chlamydia?
Approximately 50% of men and 75% of women with chlamydia do not have any symptoms and are unaware that they have the infection. In men, chlamydia may cause urethritis, which can produce a discharge from the penis or pain when urinating. If not treated, it can lead to inflammation near the testes, which can cause pain and infertility. In women, infection often starts in the cervix and symptoms such as vaginal discharge, burning when passing urine, lower abdominal pain, or pain during sexual intercourse may occur. If chlamydia is not treated in women, the infection can spread through the uterus to the fallopian tubes causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), resulting in infertility or ectopic (tubal) pregnancy.
What if you think you may have Chlamydia?
STD testing for Chlamydia is usually performed from swab tests collected from the cervix in women or the urethra in men, or from the throat or rectum. Chlamydia can be treated with antibiotics. As with other STD's, it is very important to treat chlamydia as soon as possible after a person is infected.
If you choose to be seen at our Falls Church office, you can expect to be tested for Chlamydia, and started on antibiotics immediately. There are several methods to treat chlamydia, but we typically treat with either 2 grams of Zithromax as a single dose, or use Doxycycline 100 mg twice a day for 2 weeks. Doxycycline is considered by most to be the first line therapy for chlamydia, and has an advantage in cost (generic doxycycline should not cost more than $8 for the 2 week course). However, it is one pill twice a day for 2 weeks, and has a relatively high incidence of nausea and vomiting. Zithromax as a single dose has the advantage of being a single dose treatment, but is a little more costly (about $55 without a manufacturer's coupon, but $20 with a manufacturer's coupon which we have a limited number of available to our patients). You may note that our treatment regimen is double what most people recommend; there are several reasons for this. First, we are usually treating before we have test results, and so want to cover other things such as Gonorrhea and Ureaplasma. Second, we want to make certain that you do not finish treatment before your partner(s) has also been evaluated by their own physician, and started treatment when appropriate. By giving you 2 weeks of medication, we are giving ourselves time to get test results back, have sexual partners tested and/or treated, etc. You will also be given a second medication to cover other types of infections that might be causing your symptoms, such as Trichomonas.