Chlamydia is the most common bacterial sexually transmitted infection and is caused by Chlamydia Trachomatis bacteria. Chlamydia is readily passed on through sexual contact with an infected partner and can affect the vagina, rectum and/or throat (pharynx). It can be asymptomatic in up to 90% of women and 50% of men. Symptoms in men include urethral discharge (discharge from the penis) and dysuria (pain on passing urine). Symptoms in women include an increase in vaginal discharge, abdominal pain, dyspareunia (pain during sex) and unscheduled vaginal bleeding (e.g. bleeding after sex, or between periods).
Chlamydia is readily passed on through unprotected sex with an infected partner, including vaginal, oral and anal sex. Chlamydia can also be transmitted through the sharing of sex toys and if your genitals come into contact with an infected partner’s genitals (even if penetration does not occur). Chlamydia can also be passed from mother-to-baby during childbirth. The use of condoms during sex dramatically reduces the risk of transmission of chlamydia and other STIs.
Chlamydia is passed on through any activity where there is an exchange of sexual fluids, including vaginal, oral and anal sex and sharing of sex toys. Chlamydia cannot be transmitted via kissing, touching surfaces such as toilet seats, or using swimming pools.
Anyone who has had unprotected sex, including oral or anal, should get tested for chlamydia. Up to 90% of women and 50% of men with chlamydia won't show any symptoms so you may not know you have it until you get tested. It's recommended to get tested for chlamydia, and other STIs, each time you change partners.
If you have symptoms, it is important to not only get tested for chlamydia, but for other STIs which may be the cause for your symptoms.
There is evidence that if left untreated, chlamydia infection may resolve itself within a year in up to 50% of cases. However if left untreated, chlamydia can not only be passed onto your sexual partners but can cause complications such as chronic infection, pain and infertility, particularly in women, therefore treatment with antibiotics is always recommended.
Chlamydia can cause complications if it is left untreated. In men, the infection can spread to the testicles leading to epididymitis, which is where they become painful and swollen. Chlamydia can also lead to pelvic inflammatory disease in women. This can cause pelvic discomfort and pain, fertility problems and an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy.
Chlamydia left undiagnosed and untreated can lead to complications such as epididymitis, pelvic inflammatory disease and fertility problems. Treatment is accessible and effective. To avoid long-term complications and passing the infection on, treatment is always recommended.
Chlamydia may be completely symptomless in up to 90% of women. Symptoms may include:
Men may experience:
In women, genital chlamydia is usually diagnosed using a swab from just inside the vagina. In men, genital chlamydia is diagnosed from a urine sample. Rectal chlamydia is diagnosed from a swab obtained from the rectum, and oral chlamydia is diagnosed using a swab from the back of the throat. You can order self-test kits, to do these samples yourself at home.
Chlamydia is easily treated with antibiotics. The most common regime is a week-long course of Doxycycline tablets, which is taken twice per day for 7 days. If this is not suitable, you can take a single dose of four Azithromycin tablets. You should abstain from sex until your treatment is complete, or for 7 days if you are prescribed a single dose of Azithromycin.
Chlamydia is easily cured with antibiotics. In 98% of cases, the infection will be cured with the first course of treatment.
Chlamydia is most common in those aged 15–25. But, having multiple sexual partners and having sex without using a condom are the greatest risk factors for contracting chlamydia.
You cannot get chlamydia from kissing. Chlamydia can only be caught from contact with sexual fluids. This includes oral, anal and vaginal sex and the sharing of sex toys.
Chlamydia cannot be transmitted through urine. In men, chlamydia is detected through a urine test but it cannot be passed on in this way.
The best time to get tested for chlamydia is 2 weeks after having unprotected sex. Chlamydia has an incubation period of around 7–14 days and therefore may not be detected on a test right away.