This post was written by Brittany Cruz, MSN, FNP-BC, APNP. Brittany is a board certified family nurse practitioner at the Beloit Area Community Health Center.
Learn more about the ‘silent sexually transmitted infection’
The silent sexually transmitted infection (STI), chlamydia, is reaching epidemic proportions not only in Rock County and Wisconsin, but in the nation as a whole. According to the Wisconsin Department of Health in 2017 there were 27,287 diagnosed infections in Wisconsin, and that figure is expected to rise.
More than half of new infections are attributed to 15 to 24-year-olds and oftentimes, more women are diagnosed than men. Chlamydia often goes undetected because many people who are infected may not experience any symptoms.
When infection and symptoms do occur, women may experience pain or burning with urination, pain during sex, lower belly pain, an abnormal vaginal discharge, and bleeding between periods.
Men may experience swollen or painful testicles, pain with urination, and milky discharge. Again, oftentimes, there are no symptoms.
If left untreated, chlamydia can lead to infertility, scarring of the fallopian tubes, and pelvic inflammatory disease in women. Men may suffer from inflammation of the epididymis.
Although a conversation about getting tested for STIs can be uncomfortable, remember your provider is there to provide the best care for you with no judgement. Your medical provider can test for chlamydia with a urine sample or by taking a swab of the tissues.
The treatment for chlamydia is simple and involves a course of antibiotics; that will clear up the infection within two weeks. During the treatment process, all sexual contact needs to be avoided.
Remember, birth control is not a medication that can prevent STIs. However, condoms, when used correctly, can provide great protection. Patients should get tested at least once a year, and more frequently with any new partners.