Chlamydia in the mouth is a common twist on the most prominent sexually transmitted disease, or STD, in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were almost 1.5 million reported cases of chlamydia in America in 2012. This works out to about 456.7 people out of every 100,000 having contracted the disease. Sixty-nine percent of all chlamydia cases occur in individuals between the ages of 15 and 24. This does not take into account the amount of individuals who do not seek treatment for the condition due to an absence of symptoms or limited access to and/or the inability to afford medical treatment. What a lot of people do not realize is that many sexually transmitted diseases also have an oral strain that affects the throat and mouth areas. All sexually active individuals should take it upon themselves to learn about common STDs like chlamydia and how to prevent the contraction and spread of such a condition.
What is Chlamydia?
Chlamydia is most known for being a genital infection, although it can easily infect the mouth and throat areas. This disease is caused by a bacteria called chlamydia trachomatis. This STD is particularly sneaky because many people who carry the disease do not display any obvious symptoms. One could contract the condition from their partner who might genuinely have no idea that they are infected with a bacterial disease. When the bacteria spreads to an oral cavity, symptoms are more likely to spring up but they can easily be brushed off as a cold or flu virus because they are often mild and unobtrusive. If you were to contract the oral version of this condition, the first warning sign would likely be a fever. As soon as your immune system detects the presence of the bacteria, a process that generally takes a few weeks, it will react by trying to kill off the bacteria by elevating its core temperature. If there is a high number of bacteria spread during the initial transmission or you have a particularly high-strung immune system, your body could “sound the alarm” as early as one week after exposure.
You might also notice an itchy or irritated sensation in your throat. You could develop a cough, general soreness in the throat, and discomfort when swallowing and speaking which could eventually lead to poor appetite and weight loss. You may not develop any noticeable symptoms even though your body is constantly trying to manage this infection. This also means that you could be unwittingly spreading this STD to your partner. If you think you have been exposed to oral chlamydia, consider having yourself tested three weeks after the initial exposure. As it is possible for the incubation period to last longer than this time frame (as well as the possibility of a false negative from the test), it is a good idea to re-test an additional three weeks later. Individuals who have not had intercourse in the last six months tend to have the most reliable test results.
How Does Chlamydia Infect the Mouth?
This bacteria can infect both male and female genitalia, the anus, the throat and mouth, and even one’s eyes (if they are exposed to infected sexual fluids). Contact with an infected genitalia or rectum, such as through oral sex, can lead to an oral version of the condition. It is also possible for an individual with oral chlamydia to spread the bacteria by giving oral sex to an uninfected person. Even contact with a small amount of the infectious organism would be enough to contract the disease. Direct contact between a person’s mouth and a sexual organ isn’t the only way to spread this condition to throat, however. Genital secretions, such as sperm or vaginal fluids, can be transferred from the genitals to an oral cavity via one’s hand or stimulation aids such as “toys.”
Is Treatment Available for this STD?
The good news about chlamydia is that it is easily treatable with the help of antibiotics. Unfortunately, many people are asymptomatic, or without detectable symptoms, which means that they could continue on for years with this infection and never know! At that point, serious long term effects could arise, some of which may not be reversible. It is always best to seek treatment for chlamydia as soon as the individual receives a confirmed diagnosis. One antibiotic that might be prescribed for this condition is called azithromycin. This is a powerful antibiotic that typically only has to be taken in a single dose. Another option is to take doxycycline, which is a standard antibiotic that must be taken two times every day for seven days. Other antibiotics can be just as effective, although they may have to be taken anywhere from 10 to 14 days. It is extremely important that the prescribed treatment is carried out precisely. Missing even one dose can cause the treatment to be less effective.
Can Transmission be Prevented?
The transmission of chlamydia can sometimes be prevented, but there isn’t a method that offers 100 percent protection from infection as long as you have sexual contact with an infected individual or come into contact with bodily secretions containing the infectious organism. The use of a condom will prove extremely helpful in limiting your chances of contracting this and many other STDs, therefore it is always a good idea to use a condom, especially with new sexual partners or in an “open relationship” where your partner may be having intercourse with other individuals. You can also decrease your chances of contracting a disease by limiting your sexual contact to as few individuals as possible. Women should be tested for STDs, particularly chlamydia, once each year and it is a good idea for men to follow this recommendation as well. Regular testing will not only make your partner feel reassured but it also enables you to learn about the presence of an infection early on. As you might expect, the sooner you have a diagnosis confirmed, the sooner treatment can begin which will reduce your chances of developing long term effects or complications.