Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. This common infection affected more than 1.2 million people in the United States in 2008, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The bacteria may transfer during vaginal, oral or anal sexual intercourse. Bacterial infections, including chlamydia, may cause vaginal discharge and a fishy odor. Treating the infection will help resolve the odor.
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Around 25 percent of men and 70 percent of women with a chlamydia infection may experience no symptoms associated with the condition, according to MedlinePlus. When men have symptoms, they may include a burning sensation when urinating, pain in the testicles and discharge from the penis or rectum. Women with symptoms of chlamydia may have pain during sexual intercourse, a burning sensation when urinating, pelvic pain and a foul-smelling vaginal discharge. Chlamydia in the throat may cause a sore throat and discharge.
A physician diagnoses chlamydia after taking a sampling of secretions from the cervix in females and of discharge in males. Samples of the throat and the rectum are necessary if the infection occurs in these locations. A urine specimen may also help diagnose chlamydia.
Antibiotics will help treat a chlamydia infection. Common antibiotics used to treat the condition include oral doses of doxycycline, levofloxacin or a onetime dose of azithromycin, according to The Merck Manuals Online Medical Library. Washing the outer genital area with a mild soap and water may help reduce the odor from vaginal discharge.
Without proper treatment, complications may occur with a chlamydia infection. The infection may spread up the reproductive tract in women and cause infections in the fallopian tubes and cause scarring and infertility. Pain occurs if the infection moves to the abdominal cavity. Women with chlamydia have an increased risk of developing HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, according to MayoClinic.com. Males may experience complications such as an infection in the prostate and the epididymis, which is the tube next to the testicles that carry sperm away from the testicles. Transferring secretions from the genitals to the eye may cause an infection in the eye that may lead to blindness if left untreated.
Preventing chlamydia is possible by abstaining from sexual intercourse, having a faithful partner with no sexually transmitted diseases and using a condom. For best protection, the male needs to wear the condom for all sexual activity from the start of contact to the end, even if penetration does not occur, according to the National Women’s Health Information Center.