CHLAMYDIA: DIAGNOSIS AND TRAETMENT
This is a particularly clever little bug. Able to infect without causing symptoms, able gradually to cause damage to unsuspecting fallopian tubes, able to render women infertile without very much fuss at all, really.
Some commentators have referred to the ‘silent epidemic’ of chlamydia. Figures from the United States suggest a conservative estimate of three to four million new cases a year there. There are varying rates reported in Australia; between 1 and 4 per cent of women of reproductive age are thought to be infected. Identified risk factors include being under 25 years of age, and having had a new sexual partner within the last twelve months.
Diagnosis. A swab test specifically for chlamydia can be performed on both women and men. In women the swab is taken from the cervix, so it is similar to a pap smear and can be done at the same time as the pap smear. If there are symptoms of infection the doctor may test for other bugs, such as gonorrhoea, as they are similar in their symptom pattern, and can be transmitted together. A swab is used to test men, too. A very fine swab is inserted into the tip of the penis.
Treatment. This infection must be treated with a full ten-day course of antibiotics. This is usually doxycycline 100 milligrams, twice a day, for ten days. The course must be finished to ensure the infection is treated, and intercourse should be avoided until both partners are fully treated. If a person is unable to take doxycycline (because of allergy, breast-feeding or pregnancy), erythromycin may be prescribed. (Remember that taking antibiotics can interfere with the absorption of the oral contraceptive pill. If you are taking the pill, extra precautions are needed during the course of antibiotics, and for at least seven hormone tablets after the course is finished.)
Because no test is 100 per cent accurate, and the consequences of infection are so significant, it is usual to treat all the people who have had recent sexual contact with a person who has a proven infection, regardless of the test results of those people. This ensures that the bug does not have the chance to spread further, or back to the person who has just been treated, as one infection does not give you immunity. Being a ‘silent infection’ means that you can’t rely on the symptoms to know if you are infected. It is better to treat every potentially infected person to be on the safe side.
- HYSTERECTOMY: QUESTIONS OFTEN ASKED
- PREVENTING MISCARRIAGES: SMOKING AND ALCOHOL
- TAKING CONTROL OVER ENDOMETRIOSIS: ABOUT SECOND OPINION
- BREAST CANCER/CHEMOTHERAPY’S SIDE EFFECTS: HAIR LOSS.
- BREAST CANCER/NONSURGICAL TREATMENTS: RADIATION THERAPY
- BREAST CANCER/PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS: COLLEGE AGE AND ADULT SONS AND DAUGHTERS
- BREAST CANCER/PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS: CONCERNS OF HUSBANDS
- BREAST CANCER: WHAT KIND OF SUPPORT DO YOU NEED?
- ENDOMETRIOSIS: TREATMENT
- PREGNANCY: WHAT SHOULD I DO AND NOT DO?
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