What is chlamydia?

Chlamydia is a very common sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by bacteria called chlamydia trachomatis. It is usually passed from person to person by sexual contact. Unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex can all put you at risk of contracting chlamydia.

Chlamydia can’t be passed on through kissing, hugging, sharing towels or using the same toilet as someone with the infection. But it can be passed on during sex by coming into contact with infected semen or vaginal fluid.

Untreated chlamydia can cause serious complications such as infertility and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), so it’s important to get regular screenings and talk with your doctor or healthcare provider if you have any concerns.

For women, long-term undiagnosed infection with chlamydia can be particularly dangerous as it can cause serious, permanent damage to a woman’s reproductive system. This can make it difficult or impossible for her to get pregnant later on. Chlamydia can also cause a potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy that occurs outside the womb).

Symptoms of chlamydia

Many people who are infected with chlamydia don’t have any symptoms. This is why it is important to seek testing. If you think past sexual experiences place you at risk, have any symptoms, or want to ensure you and your partner are infection free, you should seek testing. It is estimated that around 9 in 10 women who are infected with chlamydia do not show symptoms. About three quarters of men with chlamydia also experience no symptoms.

If you do have symptoms, you may not notice them until several weeks after you have been infected. Other people might not have any symptoms for several months.

Signs of chlamydia in men include:

  • discharge from the penis
  • pain or burning when urinating
  • pain and/or swelling in the testicles

In women, some of the symptoms of chlamydia include:

  • vaginal discharge or irritation
  • pain or burning when urinating
  • pain during sex
  • bleeding after sex
  • abdominal pain in the lower abdomen – especially when having sex
  • bleeding between periods and/or heavier periods

You can also get a chlamydia infection in your rectum, urethra, eyes and throat. For both men and women, this can cause pain, discharge or bleeding in the anus, or inflammation (redness) of the eye (called conjunctivitis). Chlamydia in the throat does not usually have any symptoms, but may cause a sore throat or mild cough.

Chlamydia causes

Since chlamydia is a bacterial infection, you can get it by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has chlamydia.

If your sex partner is male you can still get chlamydia even if he does not ejaculate.

If you’ve had chlamydia and were treated in the past, you can still get infected again. This can happen if you have unprotected sex with someone who has chlamydia.

If you are pregnant, you can give chlamydia to your baby during childbirth.

Chlamydia risk factors

Having multiple sexual partners and unprotected sex increases your risk of contracting chlamydia. You should always use condoms when engaging in any sexual activity to reduce your risk of contracting chlamydia.

Diagnosis of chlamydia

Getting tested for chlamydia is simple and pain free. If you have concerns about symptoms or your risk, you can book an appointment to discuss these with a Babylon telehealth provider. Commonly, a simple urine test is used to diagnose the infection, and your provider and the babylon support team can help find a lab near you to do the testing. Collecting a swab from the cervix in women, or the penis in men, can also identify the bacteria. . If you’ve had anal or oral sex, you may have a swab taken from your anus or throat. Your provider can identify which testing is right for you and help you access the tests.

If you test positive for chlamydia, it’s important to tell any recent sexual partner/s so they can also be treated . Any partners in at least the past 6 months should be notified so they can also seek testing and treatment. It is important for you and your partner to be treated at the same time. If not, you may be reinfected from your partner, even after successfully completing the treatment. You should also test for other STIs, because multiple STIs can be present at one time. Ask your healthcare provider how to be tested.

Chlamydia treatment

Fortunately, Chlamydia is easily treated with antibiotics. Azithromycin and doxycycline are antibiotics that are effective at treating chlamydia. Duration of antibiotics may be one day, or for one week, depending on which antibiotic you are prescribed.

It’s important to not have sex until you and your current sexual partner/s have also finished treatment. You should avoid having sex for seven days afterwards. This is important for the infection to be fully cured in both people before resuming sexual activity. If it is not, you risk becoming reinfected.. Ask your healthcare professional when it’s safe to have sex again.

Remember that if you’ve been treated for chlamydia, you can still get infected again. For this reason, it is recommended that persons who test positive for chlamydia, have repeat testing in 3 months, to ensure they have not contracted the infection again.

FAQs

Can you get chlamydia treatment online?

Yes. You can request chlamydia treatment online from some online doctors and health services. These services are able to provide both discrete testing and treatment.

Some states offer free chlamydia test kits, which can be ordered online. Telehealth teams can also search locations near you to help arrange testing. If you have tested positive, online doctors can then prescribe antibiotics to your local pharmacy. .

What are the side effects of chlamydia treatment?

People who are allergic to the common medicines given to treat chlamydia may be given different antibiotics, such as amoxicillin or erythromycin.

Some people experience side effects during treatment, but these are usually mild. The most common side effects include tummy pain, diarrhea, feeling sick, and vaginal thrush in women.

What is the difference between chlamydia and gonorrhea?

Chlamydia and gonorrhea are both sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that are caused by bacteria. You can get both infections through oral, genital, or anal sex. Though they are different types of bacteria, some people may have both types of infection at the same time.

Some of the symptoms of these two STIs are the same, so if you have one of these conditions, it’s sometimes hard to be sure which one it is without having a test. Like chlamydia, persons with gonorrhea may also not have any symptoms.

Chlamydia is treated via oral antibiotics. Gonorrhea is treated by a combination of oral antibiotics and injection of antibiotics into your muscle.

If you suspect you may have an STI, it is important to get tested as soon as you can so that you can receive proper treatment.

Can chlamydia symptoms persist after treatment?

After you have begun chlamydia treatment, you should start to notice an improvement in your symptoms within a few days. Generally, most symptoms go away completely within 2–4 weeks. If any symptoms continue, such as pelvic pain or pain during sex, please seek followup with a provider as further treatment or investigations may be necessary. All sexual partners within at least the past 6 months should be notified so they can seek testing and treatment.

The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of a doctor with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never delay seeking or disregard professional medical advice because of something you have read here.