According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) more than 1 million sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are acquired every day worldwide. In another report, it is estimated that, each year, 131 million people are infected with chlamydia, 78 million with gonorrhoea, and 5.6 million with syphilis. Infection with STIs can have a significant and negative impact upon a person’s overall health and well-being.
Studies have shown that chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis are three STIs which are all caused by bacteria. Chlamydia trachomatis in particular is the most common bacterial sexually transmitted disease in the world with severe complications.
Global chlamydia statistics show that an estimated 92 million new chlamydia infections occur each year, affecting more women than men in all age groups. The symptoms usually appear between one and three weeks after exposure, but may not emerge until much later. Some of the common symptoms in women include: vaginal discharge, Pain during sexual intercourse, burning feeling when urinating, bleeding between periods among others.
Findings have revealed that when the chlamydia infection is left undiagnosed and untreated, these STIs can result in serious complications and long-term health problems for women, such as pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy, and miscarriage. It is also reported that women between ages 15 and 24 are most likely to be newly infected with chlamydia.
In developing countries especially sub-Saharan Africa like Nigeria, some major factors have contributed to the spread of the disease especially among women. The factors identified include weak political commitment, psychological consequences, inadequate resources and persistent stigmatisation and discrimination against women and girls. Also, many countries still don’t openly and comprehensively address sexual and reproductive health and rights as it affects women. It can also be argued that owing to lack of proper orientation with regards to STDs in rural areas is another factor in this part of the world. Even among the educated people, knowledge of chlamydia infection and its associated complications is very low.
In proffering solutions to the disease, experts have recommended abstinence from sexual activities. According to Diana Blythe, a medical doctor resident in the US, the only guaranteed way to prevent Chlamydia is by not having sex. If you do have sex, be sure to be as safe as possible. “By using a different latex condom with each act of intercourse and being in a monogamous relationship, you are taking the precautions you need in order to minimise the risk of getting Chlamydia”. She said.
Being tested periodically for chlamydia is the other way to help prevent spreading this STI. Couples are implored by experts to get tested before they can start a marital life. Those found positive should be treated and counselled as a means of control of the infection.
It is noteworthy that women have been advised against the practice of douching. Douching is not recommended because it decreases the number of good bacteria present in the vagina, which may increase the risk of infection.
Also, advocacy campaign cannot be over-emphasised. An awareness campaign through mass education of the populace about chlamydia infection especially, mode of transmission, complications including prevention and control is paramount. This could be done through hand bills and electronic media including regular seminars for both literate and illiterate population in the society.