Chlamydia, which strikes over 4 million Americans a year, is the most common bacterial sexually transmitted disease in the U.S. Epidemiologists believe it's twice as common as gonorrhea and 30 times as common as syphilis.
The good news is that chlamydia is easily cured by antibiotics. The bad news is that 50% of women who contract the disease don't know they are infected and 30% develop serious complications such as damage to the fallopian tubes (the tubes that connect the ovaries to the uterus) causing pelvic inflammatory disease, which may result in sterility. Untreated chlamydia infection can also increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy (when the fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus) and premature birth.
The infection can be passed on to an unborn child and cause serious complications. Babies born to infected mothers may suffer from pneumonia or conjunctivitis, an inflammation of membranes in the eye that may lead to blindness.
Fifty percent of infected men also have no symptoms. They may develop epididymitis, an inflammation of the male sexual organs that can cause sterility. Men can develop discharge from their penis or burning when urinating.
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