What is chlamydia?

The symptoms and treatment of chlamydia

Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted infection. It’s passed on through sexual contact but it often causes no symptoms so you might not know you have it. The infection is easy to treat and rarely leads to any health complications. 

 

What are the symptoms of chlamydia? 

The symptoms of chlamydia might include: 

  • An unusual discharge (in both men or women)
  • Discomfort when urinating 
  • Lower abdominal pain (in women)
  • Bleeding after sex or between periods (in women)
  • Pain in the testicles (in men)
  • Swollen testicles (in men) 

If you are infected, it’s likely that you won’t experience any symptoms at all. On average, 70% of women and 50% of men with chlamydia don’t show any signs of the infection. This is why it’s so easily spread because so many people don’t know they have it. 

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How do you get chlamydia? 

You can get chlamydia by having sex, or sexual contact with someone who has the infection. This means having vaginal, anal or oral sex without using a condom. Chlamydia is passed on via genital fluids which can be from men or women so it’s also possible to get it through genitals coming into contact with each or from sharing sex toys that haven’t been cleaned properly. 

 

How can I prevent chlamydia? 

The only way to protect yourself from getting chlamydia is to use a condom when having sex. Condoms can also be used during oral sex and dental dams are available for the same purpose. When you’re with a new partner, you should always use protection until you’ve both been tested for STIs and you’re certain of each other’s sexual health. People who change sexual partners frequently or who have multiple partners should get regular check-ups to make sure they are looking after their sexual health. 

 

How do I get tested for chlamydia? 

You can get tested at your local sexual health clinic. This will involve having a chat with one of the nurses- they will ask you about your sexual partners and recent activity and whether or not you have any symptoms. While this is nothing to be embarrassed about, you might prefer more privacy- in which case you can order a chlamydia test online to do at home. 

 

How is chlamydia treated? 

Chlamydia is easy to treat. If you’ve tested positive for it, then you’ll be prescribed antibiotics to get rid of the infection. This is usually taken a single dose but depending on the type of antibiotic you’re given, you might need to take them over the course of 7 days. Whichever method of treatment you get, you’ll need to avoid having sex for 7 days- with or without a condom. You will need to tell your sexual partner/s that you have chlamydia so that they can also get treated. If you don’t, then you are likely to get reinfected when you have sex again. 

 

Is chlamydia serious? 

Chlamydia is a relatively harmless STI provided it’s treated. If it’s left undetected for a long time it can lead to serious complications which include pelvic inflammatory disease, inflamed testicles and infertility. This is why it’s so important to get tested, especially if you’ve never done it before. Otherwise, you could be putting yourself and your partner at risk. 

 

Sources

NHS > Chlamydia: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/chlamydia/

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