What is Chlamydia?

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By Steve Page

The top 2 treatments for Chlamydia are:

Chlamydia is the most common bacterial sexually transmitted infection diagnosed in the UK.

For most people, chlamydia is a simple infection and can be easily treated with antibiotics. However, if left untreated it can lead to long term complications and may affect your fertility.

Most people who have chlamydia have no symptoms and don’t know they’ve got it.

More than 1 in 10 sexually active young people who are tested have Chlamydia.

It affects both men and women. If you are gay or bisexual you are still at risk of catching chlamydia.

Chlamydia symptoms

Most people will not have symptoms however some can include:

Chlamydia Symptoms In women

  • A vaginal discharge that is different from usual
  • The need to urinate more often
  • Pain when passing urine
  • Pain during sex
  • Pain in the pelvis or lower abdomen
  • Any irregular bleeding between periods or after sex

Chlamydia Symptoms In men

  • A discharge from the tip of the penis
  • Pain and/or burning when passing urine
  • Painful swelling of the testicles

How did I get Chlamydia?

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection. It can be caught by having sex without a condom.

What is the treatment for Chlamydia?

Chlamydia is treated with antibiotics.

The two most commonly prescribed treatments are:

Azithromycin (single dose) – You will be advised not to have any sexual contact (oral, vaginal, or anal sex even with a condom or share sex toy) for 7 days.

Doxycycline (longer course) – You will be advised not to have any sexual contact (oral, vaginal, or anal sex even with a condom or share sex toy) whilst taking treatment

If you vomit within 2hrs of taking Azithromycin, do not complete the course of Doxycycline, or have had sex when advised not to then you will need further treatment.

How quickly will treatment work?

Your infection will be cleared up 7 days after taking a single dose of antibiotics or after having finished a course of antibiotics

If you had symptoms, these should start to improve once you are treated.

If the symptoms do not improve after 2 weeks or get worse, we recommend that you attend your local sexual health clinic as you may have a different STI and require further tests and different antibiotics.

What happens if I don’t get treated?

Without proper treatment, the infection can spread to other parts of the body causing damage and serious long-term complications.

Effects of untreated Chlamydia In women

Chlamydia can spread to other reproductive organs causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). This can lead to lower tummy pain, blocked fallopian tubes, infertility and ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy that occurs outside the womb).

Effects of untreated Chlamydia In men

Chlamydia can lead to a painful infection in the testicles and possibly reduced fertility. It is thought that in some men it might cause the prostate to become inflamed.

Effects of untreating Chlamydia In men and women

Inflammation or swelling of the joints can occur. This is sometimes accompanied by inflammation of the urethra (tube from the bladder to the outside of the body) and the eye, when it is known as Reiter’s syndrome. This is rare and occurs more in men than in women.

How will I know if Chlamydia has affected my fertility?

Chlamydia is just one of many factors that can affect your fertility. However, the more episodes of infection a person has, the more likely it is to cause complications which can affect fertility. If you have had chlamydia you will not normally be offered any routine tests to see if you are fertile unless you and your partner find that you have difficulty getting pregnant. If you are concerned, talk to your GP or practice nurse.

What happens if I get Chlamydia when I’m pregnant?

Chlamydia may be linked to early miscarriage or premature birth of the baby. It can be passed to the baby during the birth and (less commonly) before the baby is born. This can cause inflammation and discharge from the baby’s eye (conjunctivitis) and pneumonia.

Chlamydia can be treated with antibiotics when you are pregnant and when you are breastfeeding (see how will an STD affect pregnancy)- the antibiotics won’t harm the baby – but do tell the doctor or nurse that you are pregnant to make sure the correct type of antibiotic is prescribed. You will also need to return for a repeat test.

Will I know how long I have had the infection?

A positive test result does not give any indication of the length of time someone has been infected for. You may not have any symptoms at all or they may appear a long time after you have been exposed to chlamydia.

How would I know who has given me Chlamydia?

You might not know whether you have caught it from your current or a previous sexual partner. These doubts can be hard to handle. Some people feel upset or angry when they have an STI and find it difficult to talk to their partner or friends. Don’t be afraid to talk about how you feel with a professional.

How do I protect myself from Chlamydia?

Condoms, Condoms, Condoms!

Wearing a condom can significantly reduce the risk of getting Chlamydia and other sexually transmitted diseases.

What if I have tested positive for Chlamydia and have just had a baby?

If you have tested positive for chlamydia and you have recently had a baby via a normal vaginal delivery, the baby may have been exposed to the infection. However, most babies do not develop problems and do not need any treatment.

Can you catch Chlamydia from a budgie or a parrot?

Budgies and Parrots can have a disease called chlamydia psittacacae, which can be passed to humans (not sexually), where it causes a chest infection called psittacosis.  The STD/STI tests look for gential chlamydia trachomatis.