Chlamydia is a curable STD that infects about 3 million Americans every year. The disease is caused by the transmission of the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. Chlamydia can spread to both the male and female sex organs, as well to as the rectum, urinary tract, eyes, and throat, of both genders. This disease is passed through vaginal, anal, and oral sex, or from mother to child during birth. Chlamydia is particularly frightening because three out of four women and one out of two men who are infected have NO symptoms at all...and do not know that they have Chlamydia. If symptoms ARE present, women and men may both experience unusual discharge from their genitals, pain while urinating or defecating, or rectal discharge. Because these symptoms are nonspecific and very rare, it is recommended that ALL sexually active people, be tested regularly for Chlamydia, particularly prior to having sex with a new partner. A doctor can test for the disease with a urine sample or cervical swab. If this lab test comes back positive, additional STD tests should be conducted, as having Chlamydia suggests a likelihood of additional infections. It is very important that the infected individual and ALL current partners begin treatment with antibiotics immediately. The two most common ways to treat Chlamydia are a one-time dose of azithromycin, or twice daily doses of doxycycline for a week. These medications are 95 percent effective at killing off the Chlamydia trachomatis bacterium, and that's vital...because left untreated, Chlamydia can cause irreversible damage. In women, infection can progress to pelvic inflammatory disease, or PID. This condition can cause permanent damage to the fallopian tubes and lead to infertility. PID also increases the chance that a woman will develop an ectopic pregnancy, whereby a fertilized egg is implanted, not in the womb, but in a fallopian tube. This can cause the tube to rupture, potentially resulting in death. An infected woman can also pass the bacterium on to her baby. This can lead to potentially fatal Chlamydial pneumonia or to potentially blinding neonatal conjunctivitis. Women who have Chlamydia are also 5 times more likely to contract HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, if exposed to it. Men do not usually experience any effects of Chlamydia. However, the disease CAN spread to the testicles, possibly resulting in infertility. On rare occasions, untreated Chlamydia can cause reactive arthritis, a disease that may lead to permanent disability. While knowing the possible effects of Chlamydia is important, it's even more important to take preventative action against the disease. Do so by getting tested regularly for Chlamydia and using male latex condoms. Chlamydia's common occurrence, infrequent side effects, and serious consequences all mean that you should talk to your doctor about getting tested if you are at risk.