As members of our society have become more active sexually, the types and
number of cases of sexually transmitted infections have increased. Chlamydial
infections have recently been recognized as a type of systemic infection which is
transmitted sexually. Sexually transmitted chlamydial infections are caused by the
bacterial Chlamydia trachomatis. About three to four million cases of chlamydial
infections occur each year. These infections are not as well known as other sexually
transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea, syphilis, or AIDS for several reasons. First, it
is difficult to grow C. trachomatis in the laboratory. Also, these infections are often
undetected because the patient does not show specific medical symptoms.
Nevertheless, chlamydial infections cause serious health problems if undetected and
a. Possible Health Problems in Males.
(1) About half of all cases of nongonococcal urethritis (infection of the
urethra not due to gonorrhea) are caused by Chlamydia trachomatis.
(2) Each year this organism causes about 500,000 cases of acute
epididymitis (infection of the epididymis) in the United States.
Currently, males with chlamydial infections do not seem to suffer long term
consequences from these infections even if the infections are chronic or
recurrent. However, males who are not treated for chlamydia infections will
almost certainly pass the infection to their sex partners. Females have
serious problems from these infections.
b. Possible Health Problems in Females.
The urethral syndrome is the female counterpart of the male's chamydial
Chlamydia causes cervicitis (infection of the cervix).
(3) Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is caused by this organism. When
PID reaches the Fallopian tubes, the female may become sterile.
(4) Chlamydia may infect the endometrium (inner lining) of the uterus
causing chlamydial endometritis.
(5) Chlamydial infections during pregnancy are passed to the newborn
during childbirth, a source of conjunctivitis (a type of eye infection) and chlamydial
pneumonia (a lung infections) in newborns.