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Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. Since the Mid-1990’s new cases have been steadily increasing and it is now the most commonly diagnosed STI in the UK. Women aged under 25 who are sexually active have a 1 in 10 chance of getting Chlamydia and men aged between 20-30 are most at risk of being infected. Chlamydia often has no symptoms in both men and women so can go undiagnosed. Once Chlamydia is diagnosed it is treatable.

 

How do you catch Chlamydia?

Chlamydia is an STI; it is passed on from one person to another during intimate sexual contact. You can catch chlamydia through:

  • having unprotected vaginal sex
  • having unprotected anal sex
  • having unprotected oral sex
  • having genital contact with an infected partner


As it is common for someone with chlamydia not to have any symptoms, it is possible for them to infect a partner without knowing. You cannot catch chlamydia by using the same toilet seat as someone who is infected, and it cannot be transmitted through swimming pools or saunas.

Chlamydia can be passed from a mother to her baby during childbirth. Although no obvious symptoms are immediately apparent, the infection will often develop two weeks after birth, and can result in complications such as pneumonia.

 

Some Symptoms found in women:

Chlamydia does not often cause any symptoms. However, some women may have 'non-specific symptoms' such as cystitis, a change in their vaginal discharge, and mild lower abdominal pain. 

If left untreated, the chlamydia infection may lead to symptoms such as pelvic pain, pain during sexual intercourse, or occasionally, bleeding between periods.
The chlamydial infection can also spread to the womb, and cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). PID is a major cause of infertility, ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage.

 

Some symptoms found in Men:

A man with chlamydia commonly experiences a urethral discharge from the penis. He may also have inflammation of the urethritis, (the tube leading from the bladder to the tip of the penis) and inflammation of the epididymitis (the tube leading from the testes to the penis).

You may also experience mild irritation at the end of your penis that will usually disappear after two or three days. However, after the discomfort disappears, you may still have the chlamydia infection. This means that you can pass it on to a sexual partner. You also risk the complication of inflamed and swollen testicles.

In rare cases, Chlamydia can also cause an uncommon condition that affects the eyes and joints, known as Reiters syndrome. Chlamydia can also cause fertility problems in men, approximately half of all men with symptoms have problems with fertility, such as epididymitis.

 

Treatment

After being diagnosed with Chlamydia, the infection can usually be successfully treated using antibiotics. Research has shown that 80-90% of cases are cured with antibiotics. A retest after 3 months is advisable.

 

How is the test done?

A urine sample is usually taken if you are not showing symptoms and if you have symptoms then we advise a swab test.

 

Source Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust