What is Chlamydia?
- Chlamydia is a disease caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis.
- It’s the most common sexually transmitted disease in the UK.
- About one in ten sexually active people under the age of 25 has Chlamydia.
- Seven out of ten people infected with Chlamydia don’t show any symptoms.
This is what a Chlamydia infection looks like under the microscope. Chlamydia cells (dark pink) are inside the surface cells of the vagina (light pink and light blue). The bacteria reproduce inside the cells and are released by rupturing the cell.
What does Chlamydia do?
- If left untreated, Chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
- PID is swelling of the uterus and fallopian tubes.
- It can cause the tissue to scar and can be very painful.
- If a Chlamydia infection causes the fallopian tubes to swell it can cause a build-up of scarring that blocks the tubes, making it even more difficult for sperm to swim up them to reach the egg.
- It’s also more difficult for the egg to move down the fallopian tubes to meet the sperm.
- If the egg and sperm do meet, and the egg is successfully fertilised, a narrow fallopian tube can stop the fertilised egg moving down to the uterus to implant and grow.
- This means the fertilised egg could start developing inside the fallopian tube, causing an ectopic pregnancy.
- In nearly all ectopic pregnancies, the baby dies.
- Ectopic pregnancies can also cause internal bleeding in the mother, and can be fatal.
- The best way to avoid getting Chlamydia is to use a condom to prevent the infection spreading.
- It’s also a good idea to have regular sexual health check-ups that test for Chlamydia infection.
- Chlamydia can be treated with a short course of antibiotics.