Chlamydia FAQs

Everything you need to know about Chlamydia

What is chlamydia?

Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the UK. It’s a bacterial infection that is passed on during unprotected sex or sexual contact with an infected partner. In most cases, there are no symptoms so it’s possible to have it for a long time without knowing.


What are the symptoms of chlamydia?

If you do experience symptoms these include: pain while urinating, an unusual discharge from the vagina or penis; female symptoms include bleeding between periods or during sex; male symptoms include pain or swelling of the testicles.

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Who can get chlamydia?

Anybody who has had unprotected sex without using a condom can get chlamydia. It’s more common in young adults and teenagers under the age of 25 but you can get it at any age.


Am I at risk of having it?

You’re at risk of having chlamydia if you have had unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex with a partner without having confirmation that they are free of STIs.


Where can I get tested?

You can get tested for chlamydia at your local sexual health or GUM clinic or at your GP. For people under 25, there are self-test kits available from doctors surgeries, pharmacies and some colleges.


Is there any way to get tested without going to a clinic?

Yes, you can order a chlamydia test online to do at home from Dr Felix.


How do I know where I got chlamydia from?

This will depend on your sexual history but as chlamydia usually produces no symptoms, it’s impossible to know how long you’ve had it for. You or your partner could have picked it up from a previous partner without knowing.


Do I need to tell my partner?

Yes, it’s important to let your partner know so they can get tested and treated too. If you’ve had unprotected sex without a condom then they will also be infected with chlamydia. If they don’t get treated then you will get reinfected the next time you have sex. You’ll also need to tell any previous sexual partners that you have chlamydia. This can be embarrassing and nerve-wracking but the clinic can assist you to do this anonymously.


Does this mean they have cheated on me?

If you have tested positive for chlamydia this doesn’t mean your partner has cheated on you. They could have had it for a long time without knowing. Many people don’t get tested unless they get symptoms or think they have reason to worry so it may be that they never thought they were at risk of having chlamydia.


What if I tell them and they think I cheated on them?

It’s natural to feel worried about how your partner will react but you’re doing the responsible thing by telling them so that they can also get tested and treated. You may be surprised that they appreciate that you are being open and honest with them.


How is chlamydia tested?

For women, a swab test from the vagina is used to test for chlamydia and for men it’s a urine test. You’ll usually get the results back within a week.


How is chlamydia treated?

Chlamydia is treated with antibiotics, such as Azithromycin or Doxycycline, often in a single dose or spread out over seven days. You shouldn’t have sex, even with a condom, for one week after treatment to make sure the infection has cleared. If your partner has tested positive for chlamydia then you will usually be treated for it right away without getting tested first.


Can I have sex if I’m being treated for chlamydia?

No, you shouldn’t have sex while you’re being treated for chlamydia. Otherwise, you risk spreading the infection or getting reinfected from your partner.


I have no symptoms but my partner has tested positive for chlamydia. Does this mean I have it too?

If your partner has chlamydia and you have had sex without a condom then you should also get treated for it. It’s common to experience no symptoms if you have chlamydia, especially in women. If your partner does have symptoms but you don’t, this doesn’t mean that you don’t have the infection.


My ex-partner has contacted me to tell me they have chlamydia. What should I do?

If your ex-partner lets you know that they have chlamydia then you should get tested as soon as possible. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have it too, but getting tested will give you peace of mind and get you treatment for chlamydia if needed, preventing you from spreading it unknowingly.


How long have I had chlamydia?

It’s impossible to know how long you’ve had chlamydia. You may never experience symptoms and if you do, they might not manifest for a long time. A chlamydia test cannot determine how long you’ve had the infection.


Why do I still have symptoms after treatment?

Symptoms can be caused by other STIs. Usually, when you go to get a chlamydia test, you’ll also be tested for other infections like gonorrhoea, which produces similar symptoms. They could also be caused by a bacterial infection like thrush or bacterial vaginosis. Alternatively, if you’ve had sex with your partner before the infection was fully treated, then you may have become reinfected. You’ll need to wait six weeks before having another test.


If I have sex with my partner before they have been treated, does this mean I’ve been reinfected?

Yes, if you have been treated for chlamydia but your partner hasn’t, having sex means you are likely to have been reinfected.


Can I catch chlamydia again?

If you’ve had chlamydia you can catch it again. The treatment doesn’t provide immunity to the infection.


How can I prevent catching it?

The only way to prevent getting an STI is to use condoms or a dental dam during oral sex. If you have a long term partner then you should both have a check-up to ensure you are free from STIs before you stop using condoms. If you are planning to stop using condoms, you’ll need to use an alternative method of contraception to prevent unplanned pregnancy.


How long does the infection take to clear up?

After taking the dose of antibiotics, the chlamydia infection will clear after one week.


Is chlamydia harmful?

In the short term, chlamydia will not damage your health but if it’s left untreated then it could spread and lead to long term complications which include infertility and pelvic inflammatory infections.


Can you catch chlamydia during oral sex?

Yes, you can catch chlamydia during oral sex. The virus is transmitted by sharing genital fluids so you don’t need to have sex to catch it.


Can you catch chlamydia during anal sex?

Yes. If you have had unprotected anal sex then you may be at risk of having chlamydia. A rectal swab can be provided to test for it.


If I have chlamydia does this mean I have other STIs?

You can have more than one STI at once. If you have tested positive for chlamydia you should get tested for other infections too.


Do I have to tell anybody I have chlamydia?

You will need to tell your current or most recent partner so they can get tested and treated for chlamydia. You’ll also need to tell any previous sexual partners too. If this is too distressing or embarrassing for you then the clinic can do this for you anonymously. You may find it helpful to talk to a friend for support.


If I have chlamydia while I’m pregnant will it affect my baby?

Chlamydia can be passed on from a mother to her unborn baby during birth and it could cause the baby to develop an eye infection or pneumonia. If you are pregnant and think you might be at risk of having chlamydia you should inform your GP or midwife so that you can get tested and treated before you give birth.


What antibiotics are used to treat chlamydia?

You will be prescribed either Azithromycin or Doxycycline to treat the infection. If you are pregnant or have an allergy to these types of antibiotics then you might be given Amoxicillin or Erythromycin.


How should I take Azithromycin?

You’ll be given it as 2-4 tablets which you take all at once. Leave a week to let the antibiotics take effect.


How should I take Doxycycline?

Take two capsules of Doxycycline every day for one week.


Does the treatment have side effects?

You might experience mild side effects after taking the antibiotics. These include nausea, diarrhoea, stomach pain and vaginal thrush.  


How do I know the treatment has worked?

In 95% of cases if you’ve taken your antibiotics as instructed and avoided sexual contact during your treatment, then you will be cured. If you still experience symptoms, didn’t take your medication properly or had sex during your treatment then you might need to have a follow-up test.


How soon can I have another chlamydia test?

You’ll need to wait 6 weeks after treatment before you can have another test to make sure the results will be accurate.

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