Since chlamydia is the leading sexually transmitted infection in the world. What causes chlamydia is a commonly asked question. In the United States alone, an estimated 2.3 million individuals may have the infection.
What causes chlamydia, as well as its risk factors and methods of prevention are important to know and understand because this disease is known to be asymptomatic in a majority of cases. Also dubbed ‘The Silent Epidemic’, this disease may remain undetected for a long time until certain complications start to emerge.
Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) rather than a sexually transmitted disease (STI) because of this quality of not exhibiting symptoms until later.
A condition is usually termed as an infection until such time as it displays symptoms; after which it is called a disease.
What causes chlamydia?
Chlamydia is caused by a bacterium called Chlamydia trachomatis which is seen to live only inside human cells.
Sexual intercourse of any kind is usually behind this infection: vaginal, oral or anal sex can pass on the infection from an individual to their partner. It is any kind of unprotected sex or any kind of genital contact that can cause chlamydia.
So while chances of getting chlamydia increase with the number of sexual partners; it can also pass back and forth between two people in a monogamous relationship. The other way that chlamydia can spread is from an infected mother to a child during vaginal birth as the baby passes through the birth canal.
What doesn’t cause chlamydia
We know that what causes chlamydia is sexual or genital contact, but is also important to know what does not cause chlamydia.
There is the apprehension that this infection can pass through shared toilet seats but there is no evidence that this is possible. Sharing a sauna or bathing in the same pool as an infected person also cannot spread the infection.
The chlamydia infection doesn’t spread the way the flu virus does, so there is no danger of contracting if from a person standing nearby, touching things they have touched or if they sneezed or coughed close to you. Being close to an infected person or being in the same room with them for a long time will not spread the bug.
Risk factors of chlamydia
Just like it is important to know what causes chlamydia, it is also important to know who is more likely to get it; who’s most at risk of contracting the infection.
Women are more likely to get the infection than men and the age at which the infection is most likely to occur is between the ages 15 and 25. Having unprotected sex and having multiple partners is the most significant risk factor for chlamydia. A history of other sexually transmitted infections also raises risk.
Knowing what causes chlamydia and its risk factors can help a woman be more vigilant about the infection. Responsible sexual behavior and regular screening are the most important factors for preventing infection. Women can also reduce risk of STIs by not douching because it is known to lower the natural immunity of the genital area and make it more susceptible to infection.