What is chlamydia?
- What is chlamydia?
- Symptoms of chlamydia in women
- How is it contracted?
- Test and examination for chlamydia
- Treatment options
- Natural remedies for chlamydia
- Suggested diet in case of chlamydia infection
- Chlamydia and pregnant women
- Complications of the disease
- Tips to prevent chlamydia
- Myths vs. truths about chlamydia
- References and sources
Chlamydia is an infection caused by a bacteria known as Chlamydia trachomatis and is spread through sexual contact. It is a sexually transmitted infection that can be cured. About 3 million Americans aged between 14 to 24 years are reported to have the infection each year. More women are diagnosed with chlamydia as compared to men.
Symptoms of chlamydia in women
Research shows that, 75% of infections in women do not have any symptoms. That means that women realize they have chlamydia when complications occur. Chlamydia is known to be a silent disease. The symptoms are sometimes mild and unnoticeable. Being asymptomatic, it is difficult to determine how long a person with chlamydia remains infectious.
Due to its silent nature, a panel of experts as reported in the healthy Day News in September, 22nd, 2014 stated that, “All sexually active women 24 years and younger should be screened for two of the most common sexually transmitted infections: chlamydia and gonorrhea, according to new recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.”
The symptoms are also very similar to those of gonorrhea and therefore you could easily confuse the two. There are however some symptoms of chlamydia that women need to watch out for. They include the following;
- Bleeding between periods
- Abdominal pain with fever
- Pain when urinating
- Abnormal vaginal discharge (may have an odor)
- Itching or burning around the vagina
- Painful periods
- Pain when urinating
How is it contracted?
To reduce the chances of getting chlamydia, you need to understand the possible causes of the STI.
- You are likely to get chlamydia from an infected partner during sexual intercourse (vaginal)
- A woman is also likely to get the STI when the infected secretions come into contact with cervix, penis, anus, mouth and vagina even if there is no actual sexual intercourse.
- You are also likely to contract the STI when you wipe yourself using a tissue paper from the vaginal to the anus
- A mother can also transfer the infection to the baby during delivery in the case where the birth channel is infected
- Sharing of sex toys is also another way through which chlamydia can be contracted
- Chlamydia can be transferred to other parts of the body when fingers come into contact with the genital area. Chlamydia can for instance be transferred to the eyelid, rectum and throat.
Test and examination for chlamydia
Since the symptoms will not tell which STI you are actually infected with, you will need to carry out some tests for accuracy. The main tests that are done are;
Swab test involves taking samples of the cells and fluids from the cervix and the anus. Swab test is done by placing the swab in the vaginal opening and picking the necessary samples. It may be a little bit painful and may cause discomfort. You are advised not to apply any creams 24 hours before the swab test is carried out.
Swab test procedure
- You take off your clothes below the waist and lie on your back on the examination table
- You then raise you fit while keeping them apart and supported by stirrups so that the doctor can examine your vagina and genital area
- A lubricated speculum is inserted in your vagina and it gently spreads the vaginal wall making it easy for the cervix to be observed
- The doctor than uses a swab or a small brush top collect the samples from the cervix
Urine test can also be done where the patient privately collects urine sample and does not have to experience any pains or discomfort. Urine test is done to screen for Genital Chlamydia. It is however not as effective as the swab test. You are advised not to urinate 2 hours before collection of the urine sample for more accurate results.
What may affect the results?
At times, the results obtained may be of no help due to the following reasons;
- Using antibiotics before the test
- Stool with the rectal sample
If you are diagnosed with chlamydia, your doctor, in most cases, prescribes oral antibiotics that are taken for 7 or 14 days. Below are more treatment options;
- Doxycycline, taken two times in a day for a week. It is available in form of a tablet taken orally. Repeated use of this antibiotic is likely to cause secondary infections. Reported side effects following use of Doxycycline include; vomiting, appetite, nausea and light sensitivity. It costs around $20.
- This is an antibiotic available in form of a suspension or a tablet. It should be taken with food to avoid stomach upsets. It is taken once in a day for five days. To ensure full absorption of this antibiotic, you are advised not to take magnesium and aluminum until completion of the medication.
Side effects that come as a result of using Azithromycin include; vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and abdominal pains. Rare side effects include nervousness, allergic reactions and abnormal liver tests.
- Ofloxacin 300mg for 7 days
- Levofloxacin 500mg for 7 days
- Erythromycin 500mg as the base
Upon completion of your medication, the infection will clear. You must ensure that you complete your dose even if you feel better. An incomplete antibiotic dose never works effectively. Women with severe chlamydia end up hospitalized and are given medicine by injecting the vein (intravenous antibiotic) as well as pain medicines.
You are advised to go for re-testing after three months together with your partner so that you are sure none of you still has the infection. As published in Annals of internal medicine, women should go for screening since their last negative result if they develop new risk factors of Sexually Transmitted Infections. During treatment, you are advised not to have sex. You must wait until you complete your medication if you must have sex.
General serious side effects from chlamydia medications
- Bloody stools
- Joint pain
- Dark urine and decreased urination
- Severe diarrhea
- Severe and persistent headache
- Vaginal discharge and irritation
- Chest pain
- Unusual sunburn
- Vision changes and yellowing of eyes and skin
- Stomach cramps and pains
- Fever, sore throat and chills
Natural remedies for chlamydia
Chlamydia is not difficult to treat especially when identified early enough. Besides medicinal drugs, there are some home remedies that can be used for treatment. They include the following;
Like the Astragalus root, Echinacea is an herb that eradicates the infection by boosting your immune system. With Echinacea, the body produces more white blood cells. This is because it contains antimicrobial properties. This herb is able to kill pathogens and in the same way, it kills chlamydia causing bacteria.
You can choose to take Echinacea in form of capsules (200-500mg) or as tincture (30 drops) or take Echinacea tea. For either of the options, you should take the prescribed doses three times a day for ten days or until the symptoms disappear.
Berberine is the active constituent in goldenseal and has anti-bacterial properties which explains why it is used to cure chlamydia. Berberine is a bacteria fighting agent. It is an enzyme which fights infectious bacteria while increasing white blood cells count. This means that your immune system is boosted and therefore your body is able to fight against chlamydia.
In addition to that, goldenseal has anti-microbial properties which helps in eradication of chlamydia. For effective results, 1000mg of goldenseal is recommended. In case chlamydia is accompanied by urinary tract or vaginal infection, you are advised to make a mixture of ¼ spoon of salt, 1 goldenseal capsule and a cup of warm water.
You are required to allow the mixture to rest for five minutes or until all the salt is dissolved. Use the mixture to clean the vaginal area at least twice a day for about 10 days so that the bacteria is completely eliminated.
Garlic has been used to cure many diseases and chlamydia is one of them. This is because garlic has anti-biotic and anti-viral properties. It is also known to be an anti-oxidant. Since garlic contains anti-biotic property, it effectively cures chlamydia by getting rid of chlamydia trachomatis bacterium.
You are required to eat at least three raw cloves of garlic each day or during a meal. If you are not comfortable with eating raw garlic, add four cloves to your food. You are advised not to take more than four cloves of garlic as it could lead to diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. If you are diabetic, you should not use garlic as it is likely to increase your risk of getting a blood clot.
Curd contains good bacteria which helps your body to fight microbes which are infectious. This way, your immune system is boosted. To treat chlamydia effectively, you are advised to eat unsweetened curd prepared at home.
This is a Chinese herb that is used as medicine. For centuries, it has been used to treat bacteria. It is considered one of the best natural remedies for chlamydia since it contains antibacterial and antimicrobial agents.
Cat’s claw increases the immune system response and hence enabling the body to eliminate the bacterial infection as a result of chlamydia.
The recommended dosage for Cat’s claw is 500mg taken four times in a day for ten consecutive days. It is found in traditional medicine shops for the Chinese as well as in most health food shops.
This is an herb that has medicinal properties and cleans the immune system instantly. You are advised to grind it and boil it in water then allow it to cool. You can make sage tea since it is very easy to prepare. 50 mg of ground sage leaves is added to 250 ml of water.
To cure chlamydia, you need to take sage tea at least three times in a day until the symptoms disappear. Research shows that there are no side effects associated with consumption of sage leaves and therefore you can safely use them to treat chlamydia.
You can either use Neem seeds or Neem oil since both of them use antibacterial properties. A study done in Safdarjung Hospital regarding vaginally infected patients showed that creams from neem could be applied on the affected areas of the vagina.
The patients were asked to apply 5 ml of the cream for 14 days. Swabs taken on the 8th day showed neem was effective in healing chlamydia since it was found to contain anti-chlamydial properties.
For more severe cases of chlamydia, you are advised to drink neem tea; at least 2 cups in a week. Neem tea helps fight chlamydia causing bacteria from inside. If you opt for douche, you should mix 50 neem leaves with boiled water then use it to wash the vaginal area. This solution is a very strong bactericide. You should use the cleaning over 10 days.
Olive tree extract
Olive extract contains oleuropein which makes it a powerful bacteria killing agent. This tree extract also helps you boost your immune system so that your body can strongly fight the chlamydia causing bacteria. Olive extract come in many forms; a powder, liquid concentrate, capsules, salve or dried leaves.
You can choose the most convenient form of olive tree extract and whichever you choose, you will be able to obtain antibacterial protections. This way, the bacteria that causes chlamydia is killed. If you decide to take olive oil orally, or choose to apply it on the infected areas, you are required to use it three times a day in one week.
These are berries which have antibacterial and antiseptic properties. You are required to add two teaspoons of the berries in two cups of water. Since chlamydia causes urinary tract infections, this solution is known to effectively heal the tract infections.
Apart from that, palmetto is rich in fatty acids and phytosterols work together with the above mentioned properties to not only eliminate the bacteria but also fasten the healing process. Palmetto is therefore a powerful herb that heals chlamydia.
This is a natural cure for chlamydia that heals by soothing the burning sensation as well as the itching that comes with the infection. Just like curd, yoghurt is a probiotic. It alters the pH of the vagina so as to lower the survival changes of any micro-organisms that are harmful.
The anti-bacterial properties of turmeric explain its ability to cure chlamydia. Turmeric also contains antioxidant properties. These two properties explain why it is used to treat chlamydia. Apart from that, turmeric is a natural antiseptic which fastens chlamydia healing process.
Turmeric boosts your immune system by getting rid of any free radicals in the body. This threatens the survival of bacterial that causes chlamydia. You are advised to add turmeric to your diet or drink turmeric milk at least two times in a day for a week.
This is an herb which most people refer to as ‘Old Man’s Beard’. It is a combination of moss and algae both of which have super antiseptic properties. Usnea fights the bacteria causing the infection and also protects you from the risk of getting fungal and viral infections. Usnea also boosts the immune system making it easy to fight the infection.
You can choose to take Usnea tea or buy capsules. Preparation of tea required that you grind 500 mg of Usnea leaves and add it to boiling water. You should drink this tea without adding milk or sugar to it at least three times in a day for a week. Antiseptic and anti-viral properties found in Usnea work together to cure chlamydia.
Suggested diet in case of chlamydia infection
As much as the foods you eat are not directly linked with healing of chlamydia, your diet highly contributes to the speed at which your infection heals. Eating a balanced diets boosts your immune system, making it easy for the body to fight the infection. Below are some suggested foods worth including in your diet;
- Foods rich in fiber and alkaline forming foods hasten the recovery from chlamydia. Such foods include; whole grains, nuts, seeds and beans.
- Fresh vegetables and fruits that are rich in minerals and vitamins.
- Juices that are not sweetened or rather juices that have no additional sugars.
- Leafy greens such as alfalfa, wheat grass, kale, chlorella, and barley grass.
- Fresh fish is also very healthy for you when you are trying to heal chlamydia.
- Drink plenty of water. Water helps in driving away toxins related to the infection from the body.
Foods to avoid when treating chlamydia
- Junk food
- Processed, refined or canned foods
- Red meat
- Whole fat dairy products
- Fast Foods
Chlamydia and pregnant women
If you are pregnant and you become infected with chlamydia, chances are very high that you will have premature delivery. The babies are exposed to the risk of getting the infection in their respiratory tract or in their eyes. Apart from that, babies who get this infection from their mothers are likely to develop infant pneumonia, pink eye and conjunctivitis.
Dr. Rachel Gorwitz , a medical epidemiologist in the Division of STD prevention in the CDC explained that, “There are antibiotic treatments that are safe to use in pregnant women, and it is important for pregnant women to get treated, to prevent passing an infection on to her baby before and during the baby’s birth.”
Diagnosing Chlamydia in pregnant women is very difficult or rather inaccurate since the mucus discharge during pregnancy makes it difficult to collect the sample from the vaginal area (cervix).
From the positive end, fetal membranes in pregnant women prevent chlamydia infection from ascending into the fallopian tubes or uterus. All the same, any pregnant women should get tested for chlamydia so that the baby is not exposed to any possible risks.
Complications of the disease
Chlamydia infections are usually left undiagnosed untreated due to its asymptomatic nature. This may result to the infection spreading to the womb and fallopian tube and hence causing long term complications. Below are the possible complications;
Salpingitis is known to cause ectopic pregnancy and it may lead to permanent infertility. Ectopic pregnancy occurs due to destruction of the fallopian tubes following the infection caused by chlamydia. This tubal pregnancy can lead to death of the mother.
Pelvic inflammatory Disease
Chlamydia, when untreated, causes pelvic inflammatory disease in approximately 40 percent of women who are not treated. PID has the ability to destroy a woman’s reproductive organs and other tissues. Untreated chlamydia causes pelvic pain. Endometritis is likely to cause infection of the pelvic blood vessel and bloodstream as well as septic shock which may be fatal.
Research indicates that women with chlamydia are 5 times more likely to get HIV if exposed to it as opposed to women who do not have it. To avoid such complications that result from untreated chlamydia, it is advisable that, even without the symptoms, you should get tested regularly for any Sexually Transmitted Infections.
Tips to prevent chlamydia
Below are some ways to reduce the risk of getting chlamydia;
- Stick to one sexual partner since switching from one to another exposes you to the risk of getting chlamydia or other sexually transmitted infections.
- Ensure you use condoms correctly each time you have sex. If you do not want to use condoms, then go for STI diagnosis with your partner so that you are sure none of you is infected.
- If you notice any symptoms among the ones listed above, see your doctor for immediate test and treatment.
- It is also advisable that you go for regular tests (together with your partner) since as stated, chlamydia is a silent disease.
Myths vs. truths about chlamydia
|You can know right away if you have Chlamydia||Chlamydia is a silent disease and it takes long before you realize you have it|
|Chlamydia is mainly contracted through kissing and not oral sex||Chlamydia is transmitted through all forms of sex, be it oral or anal or vaginal sex.|
|Burns when urinating is something normal that will go away in no time.||Burning when urinating could mean something very dangerous and you need to stop sex immediately and seek medical attention.|
|If you do not have any symptoms of chlamydia then you do not have the disease.||Chlamydia is asymptomatic and so you could have it and show no symptoms.|
References and sources