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Eye infection of neonate

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Adult eye infection

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Testicular swelling

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UK Chlamydia figures

What is it?

An infection caused by a germ which infects the genitals of men and women.However it can spread beyond this area. Occasionally it may cause an eye infection.

Is it common?

It is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections and the most likely identifiable cause of N.S.U. (Non specific urethritis) in men.

Where does it come from?

It can be very easily passed on through vaginal, anal and perhaps oral sex. Sometimes it only takes close physical contact to spread. There is no evidence to show that it can be passed on from toilet seats, sharing towels or cups. An infected mother can pass it on to her babies eyes at birth. It can also be spread from genitals to eyes on the fingers.

How does it show itself?

Symptoms of infection may show up at anytime. Often this is between 1 to 3 weeks after exposure but the majority of women and a good proportion of men will not realise they have it. Symptoms may not emerge until a long way down the line. Tests done at a GUM clinic usually take one week before the results are available.

- some women may notice
bulletan unusual vaginal discharge
bulletpain when urinating

However these symptoms are more commonly caused by other conditions.

- some men may notice
bulleta discharge from the tip of the penis
bulletpain when urinating
bulletswelling of the testicles

Can it do much damage?

It can usually be treated very effectively with antibiotics and cured completely. It is important that further tests are done after treatment to see that the infection has cleared. Without proper treatment it can cause long term complications for both men and women one of which could include infertility. Research from a large study in Scandanavia published early 2001 pointed towards a possible link with cervical cancer and some types of chlamydia. This has not been properly established and more investigations are needed.

Can it be prevented?

Like most other sexually transmitted infections a proper and consistent use of condoms (including flavoured ones for oral sex) will reduce the chance of becoming infected.

What about sexual partners?

Because many people may be totally unaware they are infected so it is important that current and recent sexual partners (perhaps over the past 6 months) should be offered the chance to be tested and treated if necessary. However it is an infection that could have been acquired a long time ago. In some cases this could be a matter of years. A health adviser can help you to work out how best to inform partners.

It will take about 1 month for your body to heal from this infection after treatment. During this period you would be strongly advised to avoid any sexual contact and also until a partner has been seen.

Last updated 27-03-01

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