New research suggests that about 400,000 Americans may have the sexually transmitted disease chlamydia, but a majority of them may not even know it.
A new government report estimates that 1.8 million people in the United States have chlamydia, but that only 1.4 million infections have been reported.
Chlamydia can make it difficult for a woman to get pregnant if left untreated.
Researchers analyzed data from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2007 to 2012) and found that 1.7 percent of men and women, aged between 14-39 years, have Chlamydia. However, they found that only 1.4 million chlamydia infections are reported each year.
The chlamydia infection rate is highest among sexually active girls aged between 14 to 19 years, at 6.4 percent, the researchers found. The rate among sexually active boys of the same age group is 2.4 percent, reports HealthDay.
Researchers added that the racial differences they discovered show the need for targeted interventions, particularly among black teen girls.
These findings prove the importance of screening all sexually active teen girls for chlamydia in order to ensure that all those who are infected get diagnosed and treated, the researchers said.
According to the CDC, most people who have chlamydia have no symptoms. If you do have symptoms, they may not appear until several weeks after you have sex with an infected partner. Even when chlamydia causes no symptoms, it can damage your reproductive system.
Women with symptoms may notice:
- Abnormal vaginal discharge that may have an odor
- Bleeding between periods
- Painful periods
- Abdominal pain with fever
- Pain when having sex
- Itching or burning in or around the vagina
- Pain when urinating
Symptoms in men can include
- A discharge from their penis;
- A burning sensation when urinating;
- Pain and swelling in one or both testicles (although this is less common).
With treatment, the infection should clear up in about a week or two. Women with severe chlamydia infection may require hospitalization, intravenous antibiotics (medicine given through a vein), and pain medicine.