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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.