In the United States, chlamydia is the most frequently reported sexually transmitted infection that is caused by bacteria. Dr. Patel, can you tell us about this common STI?
Of course, Dr. Mayzik. Although chlamydia is one of the most commonly reported STIs, experts believe that a large number of cases go unreported because the infection often causes no symptoms. Chlamydia is especially common in younger people, with nearly two-thirds of new chlamydia infections occurring among people between the ages of 15 and 24.
The bacteria that cause chlamydia target mucous membranes, which are the tissues that line internal organs and body cavities not covered by skin, such as the urethra, vagina, cervix, anus, and rectum. A chlamydia infection can also affect the lining of the eyelid and, in rare cases, the throat. In women, an untreated chlamydia infection can move into the mucous membranes of the endometrium in the uterus and the fallopian tubes, which can lead to serious complications.
Chlamydia is primarily spread during anal or vaginal sex, when a mucous membrane comes into contact with the mucous membrane secretions or semen of an infected person. It can also be passed from an untreated mother to her baby during childbirth, which can lead to eye infections or pneumonia.
Although any sexually active person can be infected with chlamydia, women and men who have sex with men, or MSM, are at particularly high risk. Sexually active women are also at much higher risk for developing serious complications from a chlamydia infection. For these reasons, experts recommend that sexually active women and MSM receive routine screening for chlamydia.