(Credit!: emedicinehealth)

What is chlamydia? 

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis. 

 How do you get chlamydia? 

Chlamydia is passed on via unprotected copulation. Safer copulation is the most effective way to prevent chlamydia. This means using a condom every time you copulate (vaginal, anal or oral). A dental dam can be used to cover the female genitals during oral copulation. 

If you have had unprotected copulation or you are worried about chlamydia, get tested. 

What do chlamydia symptoms look like? 

Many people with chlamydia experience no symptoms (70% of women and 50% of men). If symptoms do appear, they can become noticeable between one and three weeks after infection. In others, it can take a number of months or until the infection spreads to other parts of the body.

Women may experience: an increase in vaginal discharge caused by an inflamed womb (cervix) pain when urinating pain during sex and/or bleeding after sex pain in the lower abdomen - especially when having bleeding copulation between periods and/or heavier periods. In men, symptoms include: a white, cloudy or watery discharge from the penis pain when urinating pain in the testicles.

Infected semen or vaginal fluid in the eyes can cause inflammation of the eye (conjunctivitis). Unprotected anal or oral copulation can lead to infection and symptoms in the rectum (discomfort, pain, bleeding or discharge) or throat (normally no symptoms).

Can I get tested for chlamydia? 

You can be tested for chlamydia whether you have symptoms or not. For women, a doctor or healthcare worker may take a swab from either the cervix or the vagina. In men, either a urine sample or a swab is taken from the tip of the penis (urethra). If you have had anal or oral sex, you may have a swab taken from the rectum or throat.

How is chlamydia treated? 

Chlamydia is treated easily with a short course of antibiotics. The two most common are: azithromycin (single dose) doxycycline (two capsules a day for a week). If you are allergic to certain antibiotics, or are pregnant, the doctor may give you different antibiotics such as ofloxacin and erythromycin. To avoid re-infection, avoid having copulation during treatment. Any current or recent sexual partners should also be tested and treated.

If chlamydia is left untreated it can lead to other health problems. For example, in women: Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) - infection of the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes. Can be treated with antibiotics Cervicitis - inflammation of the cervix Blocked fallopian tubes (Salpingitis) - inflammation of the fallopian tubes, preventing an egg from travelling from the ovary to the womb. Can sometimes be treated with surgery Swollen Bartholin’s glands (Bartholinitis) - Chlamydia can cause the glands which produce a woman's lubricating mucus to become blocked and infected, leading to a cyst. The cyst can become infected and develop into an abscess. The abscess can be treated with antibiotics.

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