Canadian health officials say the number of individuals with chlamydia is increasing across the country. According to The Globe and Mail, infection rates have risen dramatically in the past decade. For example, in Ontario, there was a 122 percent increase between 2001 and 2011, and in Alberta, the increase was 125 percent. The newspaper reported similar statistics in other areas of the nation as well.
"It is the most commonly reported sexually transmitted infection that we see in New Brunswick," Yves Leger, M.D., the regional medical officer of health in Moncton, recently told CBC News. "It blows everything else out of the water. So it's of great concern to us as well especially because it can be easily diagnosed it can be easily treated and it can also be easily prevented if people practice safer sex."
The STD is especially common among teens and young people as well as gay men. CBC News reported that it's estimated that as many as one in 10 women and one in 20 men between the ages of 20 and 24 have had the sexually transmitted infection.
In the U.S., officials estimate that one in 15 sexually active females between the ages of 14 and 19 years has chlamydia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Additionally, the fact that many of those infected with chlamydia don't have symptoms and have not been tested means they unknowingly pass it on to sexual partners.
"The surveys that we found indicate that preventing pregnancy is the concern and once that's addressed then they're really not concerned about anything else, including sexually transmitted infections," Leger told the news source.
Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that is spread through vaginal, anal and oral sex. For men, symptoms include discharge from the penis, a burning sensation when urinating as well as pain and swelling in the testicles. Women with the STD may have increased vaginal discharge, vaginal itching, bleeding between periods, abdominal pain and painful urination.
If left untreated, it can cause serious health problems including pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility.
The good news is that chlamydia is easy to detect - testing may involve a vaginal or penile swab or submitting a urine sample. Treatment involves taking a prescribed antibiotic. However, partners must be treated as well to prevent a subsequent infection.
Like other STDs, individuals can guard themselves against contracting chlamydia with the consistent and correct use of condoms.