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by James Thomas, Saturday, May 7, 2016 | Categories: Sexual Health

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection that is spread through genital fluids. In 2014, chlamydia was the most commonly diagnosed STI in the UK, followed by genital warts, gonorrhoea and genital herpes.

The good news is that chlamydia is a bacterial infection, which means it can be easily treated with a course of antibiotics. The bad news? As reported at the start of this month by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, rates of chlamydia infection in Europe increased by 5% between 2010 and 2014.

Contracting Chlamydia

Because chlamydia is transmitted through infected genital fluids, it can be spread through vaginal, anal and oral sex. You can also catch it from sharing sex toys, intimate bodily contact, and even getting infected semen or vaginal fluid in your eye.

The really troubling thing about chlamydia is that it often comes with no symptoms. It’s thought that at least 70% of all women and 50% of all men infected with chlamydia do not initially experience symptoms. The problem with this is that the disease can lead to serious health complications if left untreated.

Those people who do notice symptoms are likely to experience pain when urinating, unusual discharge from the penis or vagina, and pain in the testicles or pelvis. Women may also experience pain during sex and irregular bleeding.

If you start suffering from any of these symptoms, you should seek medical advice as soon as possible.

The Complications of Chlamydia

Chlamydia becomes a problem when it goes untreated. The complications tend to be less serious for men; however, chlamydia in men can lead to inflammation of the testicles and reactive arthritis.

In women, chlamydia infection can spread to the womb, ovaries and fallopian tubes, causing a serious condition called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID can in turn cause fertility problems and chronic pelvic pain, and is thought to increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy (where a fertilised egg implants outside of the womb). Untreated chlamydia can also be a problem for women who are already pregnant, as it can cause an infection in the unborn baby. It can also increase the risk of a low birth weight, premature birth, and even miscarriage and stillbirth.

Because of the serious nature of these complications, it’s a good idea to get regular STI tests if you're sexually active and think you may be at risk of contracting chlamydia.

Chlamydia Diagnosis & Treatment

To diagnose chlamydia, men are usually required to produce a urine sample, while women will be asked to provide a swab taken from their vagina. These samples are examined in a lab and results usually made available within a few days. A test through the NHS will typically take longer than a private test.

You can get tested for chlamydia by visiting your GP or a sexual health clinic. Alternatively, if you wish to avoid seeing a doctor face-to-face, or if you don’t have time to make an appointment, you can order a postal chlamydia test kit from a regulated online service such as TheSTIClinic.com.

If you take a test for chlamydia and the results come back positive, then you’ll require a short course of treatment. In the UK, the two most common treatments for chlamydia are the antibiotics azithromycin and doxycycline. Azithromycin is given in one dose, while doxycycline must be taken every day for a week.

Staying Safe

The best way to avoid spreading or contracting chlamydia in the future is to be open and honest with sexual partners, and to use adequate protection. If you aren’t 100% sure that your sexual partner is STI-free (and remember, they may be infected but not have any symptoms) you should always use condoms for penetrative sex, and dental dams or condoms for oral sex.

The STI Clinic is a confidential and discreet private medical service. You can order a chlamydia test kit for home use from The STI Clinic and have it delivered to your by next day delivery. You will provide a sample and send this to our lab in a prepaid envelope. Your results will be made available through a private online profile, and can normally be processed within 24 hours.

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