Chlamydia is an STI (sexually transmitted infection) caused by the bacterium, chlamydia trachomatis. In most cases, Chlamydia does not cause any severe symptoms and can be treated easily with antibiotics. However, if not detected and managed early, it may spread to other parts of the body leading to long-term complications.
Everything you need to know about Chlamydia
How do you get chlamydia?
The bacteria responsible for causing Chlamydia are usually passed from the infected person to others through unprotected sex – vaginal, anal, as well as oral.
Chlamydia trachomatis can pass on through genital contact, which means you can get this infection from an infected person if your genitals touch, even if you do not ejaculate or have sex.
Chlamydia can also occur when a person comes in contact with infected vaginal fluid or semen or get these bodily fluids in the eyes.
However, it is important to note that Chlamydia does not pass through hugging, kissing, sharing towels, and using the same toilet as the infected person.
What are the signs and symptoms of chlamydia?
There may be wide variety of symptoms when diagnosed with chlamydia. However, these symptoms can variety in severity from virtually non-existent to painful and present; most patients with chlamydia do not develop any symptoms. In some cases, the symptoms may develop several weeks after coming in contact with the source of infection. Some patients may not experience any symptoms for several months, creating issues of non-awareness of the infection.
The symptoms may differ in men and women depending on the types of tissues affected.
Some of the common signs of chlamydia in women include:
- Pain or burning sensation while passing urine
- Increased vaginal discharge
- Pain during sex
- Pain in the lower abdomen, especially during and after sex
- Bleeding after sex
- Heavy bleeding between periods
- Heavy menstrual flow
Some of the common signs of chlamydia in men include:
- Watery, white, or cloudy discharge from the penis
- Pain while passing urine
- Burning sensation while passing urine
- Pain and swelling in the testicles
A chlamydia infection can also affect the throat, anus, and eyes. In such cases, men and women may experience pain, abnormal discharge, and bleeding from the anus, and redness of the eyes. Infection in the throat may not cause any noticeable symptoms in most cases.
How to diagnose Chlamydia?
It is important for sexually active men and women to get themselves tested for chlamydia, even if they do not have any symptoms. The tests for the diagnosis of chlamydia includes the examination of a sample of urine and a swab taken from the part of the body that might be infected such as the vagina, tip of the penis, anus, throat, and/or eyes.
Is chlamydia curable?
Chlamydia can be treated with a course of antibiotics to be taken together in one day or over a period of one week.
Patients should avoid sex or any other form of intimate contact until the treatment is over or the infection is completely cleared.
What are the best ways to prevent Chlamydia?
It is possible to prevent chlamydia transmission by simply avoiding sexual or genital contact with an infected person. The use of protective devices during sex, as explained below, also offers an effective preventive strategy for avoiding this infection:
- Sexually active men and women are advised to use condoms or diaphragms during intercourse to avoid contact with chlamydia discharge and protect themselves against the risk of infection.
- The use of dental dams while kissing or during oral sex can also protect you against chlamydia.
- Chlamydia may spread through the sex toys that have been used by an infected person. Hence, it is advisable to cover sex toys with a condom and clean them with soap and water after each use to reduce the risk of chlamydia as well as other STIs.
Sexually active men and women are advised to test themselves regularly for chlamydia, even if they do not have any symptoms, especially if they have multiple sexual partners.
They should keep in mind that contraceptive pills and any form of contraception other than the barrier methods like condoms do not provide protection against chlamydia.
What are the long-term complications of chlamydia?
When left untreated, chlamydia may lead to moderate to serious complications.
Women with chlamydia may develop pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) that is characterised by pain in the lower abdomen and a higher risk of infertility. PID can be managed with antibiotics.
Chlamydia may also increase their risk of ectopic pregnancy, which refers to the pregnancy that occurs outside the uterus such as in the fallopian tubes. Ectopic pregnancy can have life-threatening consequences.
Chlamydia long term effects in males include severe pain and swelling in the testicles, along with pain while urinating and during sex. In rare cases, it can cause infertility.
Poorly managed or untreated chlamydia is also known to cause reactive arthritis in men as well as women. Reactive arthritis is characterised by inflammation in the joints, urethra, and eyes.
Additionally, chlamydia can increase your risk of getting other sexually transmitted infections such as HIV. Inflammation and sores on the genitals caused due to chlamydia make it easier for the viruses responsible for HIV/AIDS to gain entry into your body.
Hence, patients need to be aware of these risks and take optimum precautions to protect themselves against chlamydia and other STIs.
Chlamydia is the most common STI around today, but it’s also easily cured. The infection stems from a type of bacteria that can be passed along from person to person during vaginal, oral and anal sex.
The symptoms of Chlamydia can be absent for months, but you can still pass on the infection and if it is left untreated it can lead to serious complications including infertility. It also makes you more susceptible to other STIs including HIV. Some symptoms to keep an eye out for, if you’re a lady, include pelvic pain, bleeding after sex or between periods. Guys if you notice a clear discharge from your penis or experience pain when urinating it’s a pretty fair sign you need to be tested.
Whether you’re exhibiting symptoms or not, all you have to do is pee in a cup and that’s it you’re done. From there your urine is tested for the presence of the bacteria. Simple as that.
If you think you may have contracted Chlamydia from oral or anal sex our Pathology Referral will allow you to be checked for this as well. You will just need to ask the Pathology Centre staff for swabs of the area in question to be taken.
All you have to do is take one dose of the antibiotic specified in your Stigma Health results one time, that’s it! For a limited time, we can even provide the script for you without the need for you to pay for an additional consultation. Your script will be automatically posted to you at the address you provide us when you order your Pathology Referral. Now that doesn’t sound too stressful right? However, you should refrain from any sexual activity for one week to let the infection fully resolve and get tested again 3 months after to make absolutely sure the infection is gone.