Chlamydia is a tiny bacterium that can colonize and multiply in the urogenital tract of humans. An infection with chlamydia is therefore a sexually transmitted disease called chlamydiosis. It is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in Europe. Since the disease usually runs its course without any recognisable signs, many people are infected with chlamydia without knowing it. For example, about 75 per cent of infected women and about half of affected men show no symptoms at all. However, in the worst case, the infection can lead to infertility, especially in women. If there are symptoms in affected men and women, they are mainly pain when urinating and discharge. The pathogen does not lead to infertility in every woman because in many cases the immune system can cope with chlamydia without any lasting consequences.  The infection can be diagnosed with a test at the gynaecologist (smear/urine) or a urine self-test from the pharmacy (for about €25). If the pathogen is detected early enough in this way, special antibiotics can help to heal the inflammation accordingly. The statutory health insurance funds in Germany currently cover the examination costs once a year for women up to the age of 25, as young girls are particularly at risk.

Bacteria can be transmitted from person to person during all sexual practices that involve direct contact with infectious mucous membranes or body fluids. The most common route of infection is unprotected vaginal and anal sexual intercourse. Chlamydia can also settle in the throat during oral sex, but it does not cause any symptoms there and disappears on its own. Similarly, infection in the anal area has no serious consequences. However, they can quickly be transmitted from there to the urogenital tract. Furthermore, it is possible for chlamydia to be transmitted to the newborn during birth. Therefore, routine testing during pregnancy is necessary. Besides bacterial chlamydial infections, fungal infections (for example candidiasis) and trichomonad infections are among the most common causes of vaginal discomfort. Since these require different treatments despite similar symptoms, it is important to be examined by a gynaecologist. Men should also see a urologist if they have symptoms such as pain at the exit of the urethra and discharge. If a sexual partner has tested positive for chlamydia, anyone who has had sexual intercourse with them should also be tested and treated if necessary. Condoms and femidoms protect against this and other STIs, so safe sex should never be avoided when having sex outside a committed relationship.

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