Chlamydia is an STD (sexually transmitted disease) that is caused by the Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria. The CDC estimates that it’s the most common STD in the country, especially in teenagers and young adults up to 24 years of age. A person catches this common infection by not using condoms when engaging in oral, vaginal or anal sex with an infected partner. There are some other risk factors that could increase someone’s chances of catching the disease:
Now that you know the risk factors of catching chlamydia, how can men know if they have chlamydial urethritis? It can take up to three weeks after a man becomes infected with this STD to see any symptoms of the disease, which include:
When a man is diagnosed with chlamydial urethritis, he is likely to get treated right away. However, a lack of treatment can lead to even more health problems – one of which is increasing their chances of catching and being diagnosed with HIV.
If the infection continues, it can spread to the epididymis, which is located behind the testicles. It’s the tube carries sperm away from the testicles and to the vas deferens – a duct that moves sperm to the urethra from the epididymis. If this epididymis becomes infected, inflammation is likely and leads to epididymitis, which causes both pain and discomfort in the testicles.
Reactive arthritis is another possible complication of untreated chlamydial urethritis, which leads to pain and swelling in the body’s joints. This complication affects mainly the ankles and knees but can also affect the lower back, fingers and toes. Reactive arthritis symptoms include:
For a male to be diagnosed with the condition, an array of lab tests must be carried out. One such test is the NAAT test or nucleic acid amplification testing, which detects the bacteria’s RNA or DNA. It is, by far, the more accurate technique to diagnose this condition.
Doctors may also do a gram stain on the retrieved sample to determine there is no concurrent gonorrhea infection also going on, as both chlamydia and gonorrhea have similar symptoms.
They may also do a cell-culture test, looking for bacteria growth. This is not usual since the cell-culture results may be altered by an array of factors.
This disease is contagious, which means it can be passed from one person to another. If a person has it, they should inform their sex partners so they may also get tested and treated.
Men who have this disease are given an oral antibiotic treatment like doxycycline or azithromycin, which are very effective in treating bacterial infections like chlamydia. Doctors advise patients not to have sex during their treatment and for seven days after taking the medication to reduce the chance of spreading it to their partners and lowering the chance for re-infection.
Chlamydial urethritis is caused by a bacteria and can be an extremely painful sexually transmitted infection (although some men may never experience any symptoms). However, without proper treatment, it can worsen and lead to major health problems. It’s important, if you suspect you have this disease, to get tested and treated. Use condoms anytime when having sex to reduce your chances of catching this disease.
Written by Mark Riegel, MD
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