Did you know that more than one million sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are acquired each day across the world? According to the World Health Organization (WHO) each year there are about 357 million new infections with one of the four most prevalent STIs: gonorrhea, syphilis, trichomoniasis, and chlamydia. When left untreated, STIs can cause many complications but testing and timely diagnosis can help prevent unwanted scenarios. This post focuses on chlamydia and test that can help protect your health.
Importance of testing for Chlamydia
Bearing in mind Chlamydia is the most common STI in the US, it is important to get tested in order to prevent complications that could arise due to lack of management. The biggest mistake that many sexually active men and women make is avoiding getting tested because they experience no symptoms. In some cases, and especially at the very beginning, Chlamydia can be asymptomatic. That means just because you don’t experience any signs and symptoms, it doesn’t mean you’re safe. The infection can also spread to other parts of the body and cause skin irritation, swollen joints, inflammation of the heart, spinal cord, and brain.
Yearly screening is strongly recommended for sexually active women and homosexual/bisexual men who have unprotected sex. Pregnant women should also get screening for Chlamydia in order to minimize the risk of affecting your child. It is important to inform the doctor if you’re using vaginal douches and creams or if you’re taking antibiotics. Your doctor will probably ask you not to use any of that 24 hours prior to your test.
The most common tests used for the detection of Chlamydia are nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT) which include polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. The PCR test is a cutting-edge technology with significantly higher sensitivity and specificity than other tests for Chlamydia. Due to the enhanced sensitivity of the PCR test, it can detect the presence of 20-50 bacteria per reaction and it is ideal for those cases when patients experience no symptoms.
Since the test search for the bacteria’s genetic material i.e. DNA, it is highly unlikely the result will be false-position. This is yet another reason behind the importance of the PCR test. The test can involve a swab, direct fluorescent antibody (DFA), and urine. The latter is most frequently performed. PCR urine test involves the first-catch urine (20-30ml). It’s crucial not to include more than first catch urine because it would dilute the sample. Ideally, you shouldn’t urinate for at least an hour prior to the PCR urine test. Results are either the positive indicating existence of bacteria or negative meaning there is no sign of bacteria.
Ways to manage Chlamydia
Unlike some other infections, there aren’t many at-home treatments for Chlamydia. Also, the efficacy of common home remedies is not proven just yet. That said, some patients consume garlic during the meal, drink sage tea, enrich the diet with anti-inflammatory foods. The best thing you can do is to avoid having sex, even if you’re in a relationship or married until your infection goes away. Standard treatment for Chlamydia is the use of antibiotics. Depending on the severity of infection, the doctor may prescribe a one-time dose or you may need to take the medication about five to ten times a day. In order to prevent Chlamydia, avoid having sex with multiple partners and use protection.
Chlamydia is the most prevalent STD in the United States and one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the world. Treatment of Chlamydia revolves around the use of antibiotics, but the timely diagnosis is necessary. PCR urine test is the most reliable detection method and it is highly unlikely to show false positive results, unlike other methods. Get screened once a year to catch an infection and prevent its complications.