What is Chlamydia?
Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STDs), particularly amongst teenagers and young adults. It’s caused by bacteria and is spread by having unprotected sex — vaginal, anal, or oral — with someone who is infected, even though they may not have any symptoms.
How do I get Chlamydia?
By having unprotected vaginal sex (penis in vagina), anal sex, or oral sex (mouth to penis or vagina) with a person who already has it. It can also be spread by transferring the infection from the genitals to your fingers to your eyes. Remember, having unprotected sex with someone is risky because they can have Chlamydia and not even know it.
Do I have Chlamydia?
In women, chlamydia can cause pain or a burning sensation when urinating, a vaginal discharge, pain in the lower abdomen during or after sex, and bleeding during or after sex, or between periods. It can also cause heavy periods.
In men, chlamydia can cause pain or a burning sensation when urinating, a white, cloudy or watery discharge from the tip of the penis, and pain or tenderness in the testicles.
It’s also possible to have a chlamydia infection in your rectum (bottom), throat or eyes.
Diagnosing chlamydia is easily done with a urine test or by taking a swab of the affected area. The test for women involves taking a swab from the cervix (the opening of the uterus.) For men, the doctor or nurse will take a swab of the opening of the penis (the urethra), or they may take a urine sample.
How do you treat Chlamydia?
Chlamydia is treated using specific antibiotics prescribed by your doctor. You should not have any sex, including oral sex, until you have finished all of the treatment and have had a follow-up test (test of cure) to make sure the infection is gone. Your sexual partners need to be advised and get tested and treated for Chlamydia, whether or not they have symptoms.
If left untreated, Chlamydia is one of the main causes of infertility in men and women. This means you may not be able to have children in the future. Untreated Chlamydia can also lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) in women.
How do I prevent Chlamydia?
There are several ways to protect yourself against chlamydia and most other sexually transmitted infections (STDs), such as genital herpes and gonorrhoea.
Anyone who is sexually active can catch chlamydia, especially people who change partners frequently or don’t use a barrier method of contraception, such as a condom, when having sex.
You can help to prevent the spread of chlamydia by:
- using a condom every time you have vaginal or anal sex
- using a condom to cover the penis during oral sex
- using a dam (a piece of thin, soft plastic or latex) to cover the female genitals during oral sex or when rubbing female genitals together
- not sharing sex toys
- If you do share sex toys, wash them or cover them with a new condom between each person who uses them.