Chlamydia in men is a sexually transmitted disease that is caused by a bacteria infection called Chlamydia trachomatis.
- The bacteria is commonly transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse.
- The disease can also be transmitted via a perinatal transmission. This is when infection spreads from the mother to the baby during pregnancy.
How Common Is Chlamydia In Men?
Chlamydia is the most commonly reported sexually transmitted disease (STD)in the world. According to the Aids charity Avert,
“Global chlamydia statistics show that an estimated 92 million new chlamydia infections occur each year, affecting more women (50 million) than men (42 million)”
It is the most sexually transmitted disease in the United States with estimates that nearly 3 million people are infected each year with the disease. This story does not get any better in the UK either. The following report from the BBC News website stated that,
“In 2008, young people accounted for two-thirds of all new standard chlamydia infections diagnosed in sexual health clinics.
In England, as many as 68 young men in every 1,000 and 84 young women in every 1,000 carry the infection.
Since the mid-1990s, the number of diagnosed infections has risen an average of 7,500 per year to over 123,000.”
As you can clearly see chlamydia in men and women is a growing problem. But why is this sexually transmitted disease on the rise?
Signs And Symptoms Of Chlamydia In Men
One reason could be contributed to the fact chlamydia is often called the silent infection because the symptoms can go unnoticed for a long time until a serious health problem occurs. Another reason is that chlamydia screening has improved and is more widely available.
Men who become infected by the disease can experience have the following chlamydia symptoms:
- A fever or high temperature
- A white discharge or cloudy discharge from the penis
- Painful or burning sensation when passing urine
- The urethra (tip of the penis) becoming either very itchy or very sensitive
- Swelling may occur around the testicles in the later stages
These symptoms may not appear which means the infected man is completely unaware he has the disease. The first signs of chlamydia in men do not necessarily appear immediately after infection. In some cases this can take up to 2 or 3 weeks. Symptoms can also subside after a few days however, this means the male is still infected with chlamydia.
If the man partakes in anal intercourse there is a greater risk of contracting a chlamydial infection in and around the rectum or entrance to the anus. This can often result in a swollen rectum. Infections can also be found in the throat as a result of oral sex with an infected partner.
Effects Of Chlamydia In Men
If the chlamydia trachomatis is not diagnosed and is left untreated serious health complications can occur. However, this can happen more commonly with chlamydia in women.
The bacterial infection can spread from the vagina or cervix to the females productive organs such as the uterus and lead to a condition know as PID or pelvic inflammatory disease. This condition can lead to permanent damage to the women’s productive organs and in many cases result in infertility.
Fortunately, for men serious complications as as result of chlamydia or rare. However, if the bacterial infections spreads to the epididymis then this could lead to the man becoming sterile. The epididymis is the tube where the sperm flows from the testicles.
In rare occasions the disease could lead to further health complications in the form of chlamydia conjunctivitis or trachoma. This is an bacterial eye infection and is often spread to the eyes from the fingers of people who have chlamydia. With this infection one or both eyes become swollen with a sticky discharge. With serious cases the cornea of the eye can also become infected.
Another rare condition of untreated chlamydia is Reiter syndrome. According to the American Academic of Family Physicians (AAFP) Reiter syndrome is,
“a reactive arthritis that includes the triad of urethritis (sometimes cervicitis in women), conjunctivitis, and painless mucocutaneous lesions.
Reactive arthritis develops in a small percentage of individuals with chlamydial infection. Women can develop reactive arthritis, but the male-to-female ratio is 5:1.”
“The arthritis begins one to three weeks after the onset of chlamydial infection. The joint involvement is asymmetric, with multiple affected joints and a predilection for the lower extremities.”
How Is Chlamydia In Men Diagnosed?
It is hard to diagnose chlamydia in men because up to 50% of those infected show little to no symptoms. However, if you are sexually active with more than one partner and sex is unprotected then, it would be highly advisable to have a check.
For men the most common way to diagnose chlamydia is to either take a urine test or a swab sample from inside the urethra. The latter procedure can be painful if the tip is already inflamed. Urine samples are a less painful and evasive way of taking a sample for diagnosis.
In the UK a faster way of testing men has been developed. The BBC News website reported that
“The new Chlamydia Rapid Test is designed to be used with a device for collecting urine from men called FirstBurst. FirstBurst can collect six times the amount of chlamydia bacteria contained in a standard urine sample.
The test then uses a signal amplification system to boost its sensitivity, giving the results in less than an hour. An evaluation, published in the British Medical Journal, found the test was significantly more accurate than existing urine-based rapid tests”
Unlike women there is no international agreement that sets out guidelines for health care providers when screening for chlamydia in males. Therefore the onus is on men to take the initiative and get themselves tested.
How To Treat Chlamydia In Men
Chlamydia treatment for men is quite straight forward. As it is a bacterial infection the condition can be treated with a course of antibiotics. If the antibiotics are taken as prescribed the success rate of clearing the infection can be as high as 95%.
Before being prescribed a course of antibiotics the doctor or health care provider will ask questions relating to their sexual partners within the last 6 month. This is a precaution as those partners may have been infected as well and will need to have a test.
Doctors will also ask if the patient is allergic to antibiotics or pregnant as this will determine the course if treatment prescribed. It is advisable that men with chlamydia avoid partaking in sexual intercourse or activities until the infection is cleared.
How To Prevent Chlamydia In Men
- Chlamydia in men is the most common sexually transmitted disease. Reduce the amount of sexual partners you have as this will decrease your risk of infection.
- Sexual intercourse is the most common way of becoming infected. Having protected sex is highly advisable. Therefore, always use a condom especially with new partners
- The symptoms of chlamydia are hard to recognize. It is important to get tested especially if you are sexually active and have unprotected sex.
- Before having sex with a new partner ask them if they have any sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s). Ask them if they have been tested recently and if so what was the result.
- The most effective way to prevent infection is to abstain from sex altogether. For some people, this will require a lot of discipline. It is however the most effective method in preventing chlamydia.
American Academic of Family Physicians (AAFP)- Diagnosis and Treatment of Chlamydia trachomatis Infection – KARL E. MILLER, M.D., University of Tennessee College of Medicine, Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Avert.org – Chlamydia: Symptoms, Signs, Treatment & Testing.
BBC News – Rapid chlamydia diagnosis for men.