Chlamydia and Cancer

Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted disease that affects both men and women across the globe. This is a very common sexually transmitted disease that can lead to irreversible damage to other parts of the body. This disease, when left untreated, can cause permanent damage to a woman’s reproductive system and make it virtually impossible to conceive a child at any time in life. Chlamydia is also responsible for the potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy, which happens when the pregnancy happens outside of the uterus.

How is Chlamydia spread?

Chlamydia is spread by participating in vaginal, oral, or anal sex with someone who is positive for this disease. If your male sexual partner does not ejaculate, you can still become infected with Chlamydia. If you have had Chlamydia in the past and treated, you can get this infection again after repeated exposure with unprotected sexual intercourse and foreplay.

Am I at risk of getting Chlamydia? How can I reduce this risk?

The only way to avoid the risk and becoming infected with this sexually transmitted infection is to not have any sort of anal, oral, or vaginal sex. If you are sexually active, these things could help lower your risk:

-using protection, like a latex condom, every time you have sex.

-be engaged in only a long-term monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested for all sexually transmitted diseases and is negative.

This disease affects young people, putting those in their teens and twenties at the greatest risk. This is generally due to behaviors and biological factors of growing into adulthood and the decision-making process. Those who identify as gay, bisexual, or as a male who has intercourse or relations with other men are also at heightened risk and should be tested regularly.

Being open and honest with your doctor about your sexual activity and concern if you have been exposed should not embarrass you. They are there to help you through these situations, as even those who are extremely careful have been infected with sexually transmitted diseases. If you are twenty-five or younger, sexually active and promiscuous, you should be tested yearly. If you are aging and dating around, you should also be tested yearly. Being open with your sexual partners is also a must, and one of the best ways to find out their STI history.

How will I know if I have Chlamydia? Are there specific signs or symptoms?

Most of those who have chlamydia show no symptoms, and if there are visible symptoms, they may not appear for months after exposure or sexual intercourse with an infected partner. With or without symptoms, chlamydia can cause permanent body damage when left untreated. This is why an appointment for testing with your doctor is very important immediately once you suspect you have been exposed.

Women with chlamydia symptoms may experience:

  • a burning or stinging sensation when urinating;
  • painful menstrual periods;
  • bleeding or spotting in between cycles;
  • pain with intercourse;
  • abnormal vaginal discharge with or without odor and an off-color.

Men who have chlamydia might experience these symptoms:

  • a burning sensation when urinating and immediately after;
  • a discharge from the penis;
  • itching or burning around the opening of the penis;
  • pain with or without swelling in one or both of the testicles, although this is a less common symptom.

Both men and women can be infected with chlamydia in their rectum and anal area. This happens when anal intercourse is happening, or it can also spread from another site of infection, like the penis or vagina. The infection presenting in the anus also has no immediately visible symptoms. Some who are infected may note:

  • abnormal anal discharge;
  • rectal pain that can be intense;
  • rectal bleeding.

If you think you have been exposed, schedule an appointment with your doctor for testing, making sure to note any symptoms you may be experiencing. STD symptoms can include any unusual sore, any discharge with odor, burning at any time when urinating or even bleeding in between menstrual periods.

How will my doctor treat my chlamydia?

Your doctor will order a series of lab tests and urine tests. They may also swab your penis or vagina to test for the bacteria that causes chlamydia. Chlamydia can be cured with the right treatment and if the patient follows the exact medication guidelines. Taking the medication as prescribed ensures that the virus numbers decrease, which will lessen your chance of permanent damage from the disease. Never share your medication for chlamydia, as dosage and prescriptions are different for everyone. Reoccurring chlamydia infections are very common, and you should be tested again three months after your treatment ends- even if your partner was also treated.

After treatment, you should not resume having sexual intercourse again until you and your partner have both completed treatment and have a re-test. If your doctor prescribes a one-time dose of medication, you should wait at least seven days after taking the medication before having sex again. If your doctor prescribes a seven-day course of medications, you should wait until you have taken all of the medication before having sex again.

What if I cannot get treatment right away?

Due to the fact that chlamydia does not often immediately present with visual symptoms, the internal damage is often done and unnoticed. For men, these future health risks are lower than that of women. Men might face infection in their vas deferens, which are the tubes that carry sperm and semen, which can cause pain and fever. In rare cases, chlamydia has made males who have not been treated sterile and unable to reproduce.

For women, untreated chlamydia can spread to the uterus and fallopian tubes, which are the tubes that carry the eggs from the ovaries to the uterus. This can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease or PID. Pelvic inflammatory disease also has no immediate symptoms but can permanently change your reproductive system by causing scarring within the fallopian tubes which can make pregnancy impossible without medical intervention. Ectopic pregnancies are very common in women who have ever had chlamydia in their lives.

Has chlamydia been linked to cancer development later in life?

Yes, chlamydia heightens the risk for cervical and uterine cancers in women, as well as genital, abdominal and anal cancers in men. The risk of developing cancer later in life is about the same as other major sexually transmitted infections such as the human papillomavirus, herpes simplex, or syphilis.

I think I might be pregnant, and I have chlamydia. What should I do?

First, inform your obstetrician of your sexually transmitted disease history and diagnoses. There is a high chance, that without careful precaution, the chlamydia could be spread to your infant during delivery. The most common issues that affect the baby once exposed from the mother are eye infections or pneumonia. Chlamydia has also been noted to cause premature birth and early labor. Most obstetricians and gynecologists do test for this sexually transmitted infection at your first prenatal visit, which helps guide them with your treatment and the safety of your baby during delivery.

How will my doctor treat the chlamydia?

Once you are diagnosed with chlamydia, your doctor will prescribe oral medications. Usually, these are antibiotics like doxycycline or azithromycin. These are commonly used medications for a multitude of purposes. It is very important to finish all of your prescribed medications! In severe cases or cases of chlamydia that are advanced, hospitalization and intravenous medications may be required to better fight the virus and alleviate any pain.

If you think you have been exposed to chlamydia, do not wait to get treatment for yourself and your partner. Early detection is key in treating sexually transmitted diseases and reversing or stopping any internal body damage done by the infection.

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