Genito-Urinary Medicine

Chlamydia

Introduction to Chlamydia

Chlamydia is an STI (sexually transmitted infection). It is one of the most common in the United Kingdom and is spread through unprotected sex.

Written by Doctify Team 27/04/2020

What is Chlamydia?

Chlamydia is an STI (sexually transmitted infection). It is one of the most common in the United Kingdom and is spread through unprotected sex.

This infection is very common and can affect anyone of any age, however, 70% of cases occur in those under 25. Sexually active teenagers and young adults are the most at risk.

What causes Chlamydia?

The cause of chlamydia is a bacteria called Chlamydia. trachomatis. It is spread via unprotected sex, sharing of unclean sex toys, close genital contact (even without penetration or ejaculation) or via bodily fluids of an infected person coming in contact with the eye.

What are the symptoms of Chlamydia?

Some patients experience symptoms of chlamydia, whilst others are asymptomatic (no symptoms). Asymptomatic patients may not realise that they are infected.

It can cause dysuria (pain on urination) and discharge from the vagina, penis or rectum.
Women may experience pain in the pelvic region and bleeding during intercourse and/or irregularly in between periods. Men can suffer from swelling of the testicles and associated pain.

If left untreated, chlamydia can have some serious complications. The infection can spread to other parts of the body and can cause testicle inflammation and infertility. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is another complication which can cause severe pelvic pain and needs to be treated rapidly. In rare cases, chlamydia can be responsible for causing a type of arthritis.

How is Chlamydia treated?

Chlamydia is treatable and doctors test for it using a swab or urine test. Test kits are available from many sexual health clinics, pharmacies, GPs and GUM clinics around the UK and offer confidential and free testing and advice.

Antibiotics is the standard treatment and it can be given in one dose or several.
Sexual intercourse should be avoided until approximately a week after treatment is finished and it is important that preventative measures are put in place to avoid contracting this and other STIs again in the future.

Current and past sexual partners need to be notified and tested to treat them and prevent further spread of the infection; this can be done confidentially through specialist clinics.

Prevention is very important and using a barrier method minimises the risk of infection.

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