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Chlamydia

This webpage is for information purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

Chlamydia is a common STI caused by a bacterium called Chlamydia trachomatis. It is spread from person to person through unprotected oral, anal or vaginal intercourse or through sharing of sex toys.

Signs & Symptoms

It can take 2 - 6 weeks or longer after exposure for chlamydia symptoms to appear. A chlamydia infection might not cause any symptoms in men or women.

Women might experience:
  • Increased vaginal discharge.
  • Vaginal itching.
  • Pain or burning when urinating.
  • Pain or bleeding during sexual intercourse.
  • Bleeding after intercourse.
  • Bleeding between menstrual periods.
  • Pain in the lower abdomen.

Men might experience:

  • Discharge from the penis.
  • Burning and/or itching around the tip of the penis.
  • More frequent urination.
  • Pain or burning when urinating.
  • Painful or swollen testicles.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Diagnosing Chlamydia

Chlamydia can be diagnosed by taking a swab from a female's cervix or the tip of a male's penis, from the throat (for oral sex) or from the anus (for anal sex). Testing for these infections can also be done using a special urine test. Do not urinate (pee) for 1 hour before giving a urine sample.

Treatment

Chlamydia is 100% curable with oral antibiotics. Be sure to tell your doctor if you’re taking birth control pills or any other medications. Some antibiotics don’t work as well if you’re taking other medications.

Since it is possible to have both chlamydia and gonorrhea at the same time, you might be given two different medications.

Be sure to avoid all sexual (oral, vaginal, anal) contact - even with a condom - during treatment and for at least 7 days after you've finished taking the medication(s).

Your partner(s) must be tested and treated at the same time to prevent re-infection.

Left untreated, chlamydia:

  • Can increase your chances HIV transmission if you are engaging in unprotected sexual activity with someone living with HIV – (the immune system cells (CD4/T-cells) that are working to fight the Chlamydia infection are the very cells that HIV target. The immune system cells are present at the site of a Chlamydia infection – the genital area – making someone more vulnerable to HIV).
  • Might spread to other parts of your body, causing problems such as arthritis.
  • Can cause infertility in men by spreading to the testicles and prostrate gland.
  • Can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women by spreading to the fallopian tubes and ovaries. PID can cause tubal pregnancies or infertility. In fact, untreated chlamydia is one of the main reasons why some women are unable to get pregnant.
  • Can be passed on to a baby during delivery and cause eye and lung infections.

Follow Up & Prevention

Follow Up

It’s important to know that your infection is cured.  Your health-care provider will tell you when to return for a follow-up test.  Depending on which tests you need, you’ll be asked to return 1-6 weeks after finishing the medication. If you’re menstruating, you shouldn’t be retested until your period ends.

Prevention

Both male and females can reduce the risk of contracting chlamydia by:

  • Not having sex. Being tested together with all new partners prior to sexual activity.
  • Always using condoms.

Pregnant women should be screened and treated if necessary to prevent chlamydia eye infections and pneumonia in their newborns.

Types of STIs

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