A sexually transmitted disease (STD) is an infection contracted through sexual activity. You may see STDs referred to as sexually transmitted infections (STIs). They are one in the same.

STDs can affect people of all ages regardless of race and sexual orientation, but are more common among adolescents and young adults. Their effects are emotional, physical, and sometimes fatal. A pregnant woman with an STD can pass the infection to her baby in utero or during birth, with potentially serious consequences.

Although many STDs are treatable, there are some that have no cure. If you suspect you may have an STD, seek out medical care. If you are diagnosed with an STD, you will need to notify your sexual partners so they can be treated as well.

If you are sexually active, protect yourself by learning about safe sex practices, STDs, and how to spot them. Arm yourself with knowledge and find out some facts on the most common STDs.

Chlamydia is one of the most common STDs. The culprit is a specific bacteria which affects both men and women. Bacteria can take up residence in the genitals, urinary tract, and rectum. In some cases, the infection can also spread to the eyes and throat.

Chlamydia does not always produce symptoms, so it can be difficult to know you have it without testing.

It is important to remember that symptoms may not occur for several weeks after exposure. Common symptoms include:

  • Pain or burning during urination in both men and women
  • Discharge from the vagina or penis
  • Lower abdominal pain in women

Complications of untreated chlamydia include:

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease in women
  • Infertility in both men and women
  • Rectal pain, discharge, or bleeding from receptive anal sex in both men and women
  • Pain and swelling of epidydymis, which is the tube that carries sperm from the testis
  • In rare cases, chlamydial infection in a man's urinary tract can be a part of a list of conditions called Reiter’s syndrome (arthritis, uveitis, and urethritis)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends yearly screening for:

  • All sexually active women under age 25 years
  • Women older than 25 years with new or multiple sexual partners
  • Men who have sex with men

Chlamydia is treated with antibiotics.