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Chlamydia - Common but Preventable

Jan 23, 2013
Chlamydia is the most commonly reported sexually transmitted infection (STI) in Simcoe Muskoka, with almost 1,300 cases reported in 2012, and yet it is preventable when the appropriate precautions are taken. Those aged 15-24 make up more than 60 per cent of all cases.

Chlamydia is the most commonly reported sexually transmitted infection (STI) in Simcoe Muskoka, with almost 1,300 cases reported in 2012, and yet it is preventable when the appropriate precautions are taken.  Those aged 15-24 make up more than 60 per cent of all cases.

Rates of chlamydia are higher in young men and women because they tend to engage in higher risk sexual behaviours, including inconsistent condom use and more sexual partners over a period of time. Although these relationships are often monogamous, each new sexual partner increases the risk of getting an STI. Higher chlamydia rates in young women may also be partially due to higher rates of testing among women.

Chlamydia can be transferred between partners during unprotected sex even when there are no symptoms present.  Because up to 70 per cent of women and 50 per cent of men infected with chlamydia will not have any symptoms, it is important to always practice safe sex and to get tested regularly if sexually active. If infected, testing will not only allow treatment to prevent health complications, but also prevent any further possibility of infecting your partner.

Some of the symptoms of chlamydia include, but are not limited to:

  • For women: abnormal vaginal discharge or bleeding; a burning sensation during urination; pain in the lower abdomen; pain during sex; and bleeding after sex.
  • For men: abnormal discharge from the penis; a burning sensation during urination; burning or itching at the opening of the penis; and pain and/or swelling in one or both of the testicles.

Even if you don’t have symptoms chlamydia can lead to serious complications in both men and women. If left untreated, chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women, which can lead to scarring, obstruction and damage to the fallopian tubes, causing chronic pelvic pain, infertility, and possibly leading to life threatening ectopic or tubal pregnancy.  For men, lack of treatment can lead to scarring of the urethra, making urination difficult and painful and occasionally causing infertility.

The good news is that chlamydia is preventable, as well as easily diagnosed and treated. Increasing awareness of the risks of chlamydia, consistent and proper condom use, the importance of testing, and the services that are available, are the best ways to prevent chlamydia.  In many cases, all that is required to test for chlamydia in both men and women is a simple urine sample.

For more information on chlamydia in Simcoe Muskoka, check out Focus on HealthSTATS: Sexually Transmitted Infections at simcoemuskokahealthstats.org, or call Your Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday and speak with a public health nurse about chlamydia and how to get tested.

Dr. Gardner is Simcoe Muskoka’s medical officer of health.


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