What is chlamydia?
Chlamydia comes from the Greek word meaning to
cloak and is caused by bacteria called chlamydia trachomatis.
The bacteria mainly infect the genitals but it can sometimes infect the throat and rectum.
Chlamydia is the most common sexually
transmitted disease in young adults. Chlamydia is very easy
to treat with antibiotics but if left untreated can cause infertility.
However, many people do not know they have chlamydia as it does not
always produce symptoms (around 70% of people will have no symptoms).
As a result chlamydia is sometimes called the 'silent infection'.
How is chlamydia spread?
Chlamydia is spread in any of the following ways:
- Having unprotected anal, vaginal or oral sex with someone who is infected.
- A mother to her baby at birth, this is why we
recommend you get yourself tested if you are planning pregnancy. For
our chlamydia test click here.
- Occasionally, it can affect the eyes, known as
trachoma. This can occur if the infection is transferred to the eyes,
by fingers, which have been in contact with the genitals.
Chlamydia tends to infect women more than men, this
is because women hold germs and fluids from male partners inside them
for some time after sex.
What are the symptoms of chlamydia?
As mentioned previously chlamydia does not always
have symptoms and symptoms if present can be mistaken for something
less serious, such as thrush.
However, if you have any of the following we would advise you to visit
your doctor or local G.U.M.
clinic. At the G.U.M. clinic you
will be treated with total confidentiality, not even your doctor will
be told of your visit unless you give permission. The service, treatment
and advice at these clinics is totally free.
Men are more likely to have symptoms than women,
but they may have no symptoms either.
In women symptoms may include: -
In men symptoms may include: -
If chlamydia infects the eyes, you may experience pain,
swelling and irritation.
How can chlamydia be prevented?
The only way to be sure of avoiding chlamydia and
other sexually transmitted diseases, is with the consistent use of condoms.
To prevent infection the condom must be put on correctly and before
any genital contact.
Remember, just because you have had chlamydia once
doesn't mean you will not get it again. Every time you have unprotected
sex you are at risk of chlamydia and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Am I at risk of catching chlamydia?
Anyone who has unprotected sexual intercourse may
be at risk of catching chlamydia. Chlamydia is very common and because
there are usually no symptoms it is very easy for the infection to be
spread around, without people knowing they have got it. Chlamydia can
appear in people who have not had a sexual partner for some time. This
is often because his/her partner is infected but has no symptoms and
so does not immediately pass the infection on. This doesnt necessarily
mean that your regular partner has become infected through sexual contact
with someone else. Because chlamydia is so common it is advised that
people who have regular sex, especially those with different sexual
partners should be tested once a year, even if they feel healthy.
How is chlamydia diagnosed?
A doctor or nurse will examine your genital area and a
swab (sample) is usually taken from the woman's cervix,
this will be similar to a smear test. In men a swab is taken from the
tip of the penis. The swab is then sent to a laboratory for testing
and the result is usually available within one week. A urine sample
may also be taken, this is another way of diagnosing chlamydia for both
men and women.
You may purchase a chlamydia urine test on this website, click
here for further information. We also sell a female only
chlamydia test for more information on this test click
How is chlamydia treated?
Chlamydia is treated with antibiotics that destroy the
germs in your body. If you are treated for chlamydia you must make sure
that you finish the course of treatment and ensure that your partner
is also treated, to avoid getting infected again. During treatment you
should avoid sexual intercourse to avoid re-infection. Once you have
finished treatment it is important that you go back to your doctor for
a check-up to make sure the infection has gone.
What are the effects of untreated
In women, if chlamydia is left untreated the bacteria
may spread into the pelvic area and infect the uterus, fallopian
tubes and ovaries leading to a disease called pelvic
inflammatory disease. This disease can lead to many complications
If a woman has chlamydia during pregnancy she will
risk having an ectopic
pregnancy, early labour or passing the infection on to her baby,
which would cause an infection in the babies eyes or lungs.
In men, chlamydia can cause a painful swelling
of the testicles, which could also cause infertility.
Reiter's syndrome, which causes inflammation of the eyes
and joints can also develop in men and women as a result of untreated