Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Chlamydia and Teens

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Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or infection caused by the bacterium, Chlamydia trachomatis, which can damage a woman's reproductive organs. Most women infected with chlamydia have no symptoms although serious complications can cause irreversible damage. Men with chlamydia may have no symptoms or a discharge from the penis.

Chlamydia is the most frequently reported bacterial sexually transmitted disease in the United States, and it is likely under reported because so many people do not know they are infected. You can get chlamydia during oral, vaginal, or anal sex, as well as from mother to child during childbirth. The younger you start having sex and the more sex partners you have, the higher your risk of getting chlamydia.

If symptoms happen, they usually appear within 1 to 3 weeks after exposure. In women, these symptoms are abnormal vaginal discharge or a burning sensation when urinating. When the infection spreads from the cervix to the fallopian tubes, some women will abdominal pain, low back pain, nausea, fever, pain during intercourse, or bleeding between menstrual cycles.

Chlamydia symptoms in men include a discharge from the penis, burning sensation when urinating, burning or itching around the opening in the penis, and even pain or swelling of the testicles, which is uncommon. Males and females can get chlamydia in the rectum (from receptive anal sex) or mouth (from oral sex).

Untreated chlamydia in women will lead to lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) in about 40% of cases. Screening with a chlamydia test (urine or swab) is recommended every year for all people under the age of 25 who have had sex. If you have chlamydia, it is easily treated with antibiotics - and ALL sex partners should be tested and/or treated.

PROTECT YOURSELF! NOT HAVING SEX OR USING LATEX CONDOMS FOR ALL SEX - VAGINAL, ORAL or ANAL - IS THE BEST WAY TO AVOID CHLAMYDIA!
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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