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Chlamydia in Females

Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the U.S. Caused by bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis, it most often starts as an infection of the cervix.

You must see a doctor to check if you have chlamydia for sure.

What are the symptoms?

Seventy percent of women with chlamydia have no symptoms. When there are symptoms, they include:

  • abnormal vaginal discharge
  • burning pain when going to the bathroom
  • dull pelvic pain
  • spotting or bleeding between menstrual periods
  • menstrual bleeding that is heavier than usual
  • more painful periods
  • more frequent urination.

How long will chlamydia last?

The outcome of a chlamydial infection depends on:

  • The length of time you have been infected.
  • Whether the infection has spread through your uterus and fallopian tubes.
  • The number of previous chlamydial infections you have had.

With proper treatment the infection usually clears in 10 days.

If not treated, chlamydia can spread through the uterus to the fallopian tubes, causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID is an infection of the entire female reproductive system. It can cause serious damage, such as infertility. PID also increases the risk of tubal pregnancy (a pregnancy outside the uterus).

Chlamydia can be transmitted from the mother to her baby during birth. It can cause eye infections and lung infections in the newborn baby.

What is the treatment?

  1. Antibiotics

    You will need to take the antibiotic prescribed by your physician.

  2. Contacts

    Tell everyone with whom you have been sexually active in the last 3 months about your infection. They must also be treated even if they have no symptoms. Do not have sex until both you and your partner have finished all the medication.

  3. Prevention

    Because chlamydia is sexually transmitted, there are ways that you can help prevent this infection. Not having sex (abstinence) is the best method of prevention. Use of condoms is the next best method. In addition, you are less likely to get a sexually transmitted disease if you have just one sexual partner.

    It is possible to be infected with chlamydia or gonorrhea and yet not have any symptoms. If you continue to be sexually active, you should get a test for chlamydia and gonorrhea at your yearly pelvic examination, along with a Pap smear.

Call Your Doctor Immediately If:

  • You develop severe abdominal pain.
  • You vomit and cannot hold the medication down.
  • You develop a fever over 100ƒF (37.8ƒC).
  • You feel you are getting sicker.

Call Your Doctor During Office Hours If:

  • You have other questions or concerns.

Written by David W. Kaplan, M.D., and the staff of the Adolescent Medicine Center, The Children's Hospital, Denver, Colorado.
Copyright 1999 Clinical Reference Systems