Wednesday, 22 August 2012


Chlamydia is one of the most
common STIs - and usually goes
untreated, affecting up to one in ten
sexually active young people.
What is chlamydia?
Chlamydia is one of the most
common sexually transmitted
infections (STIs). It's a bacterial
infection, which is found in semen
and vaginal fluids.
Causes and risk factors
Chlamydia is usually passed from
one person to another during
vaginal, oral or anal sex, or by
sharing sex toys. It can live inside
cells of the cervix, urethra, rectum
and sometimes in the throat and
Chlamydia can also be passed from
a pregnant woman to her baby.
Chlamydia is often referred to as the
'silent infection', as most men and
women don't have any obvious
signs or symptoms, or they're so
mild they're not noticed.
Symptoms can appear one to three
weeks after you've come into contact
with chlamydia, or many months
later, or not until the infection
spreads to other parts of your body.
Women might notice:
Unusual vaginal discharge.
Bleeding between periods or
during or after sex.
Pain with sex or when passing
Lower abdominal pain.
Men might notice:
White/cloudy, watery discharge
from the tip of the penis.
Pain when passing urine or
painful testicles.
If the infection is in the eye or
rectum, you may experience
discomfort, pain or discharge.
Chlamydia in the throat is
uncommon and usually has no
Treatment and recovery
If you think you might have
chlamydia, it's important to be tested
quickly. Testing is free on the NHS
from genitourinary medicine (GUM)
clinics, sexual health clinics, many
contraception clinics, your GP and
pharmacies. In some areas testing
kits may also be available by post.
The National Chlamydia Screening
Programme in England is being
extended to ensure all sexually active
women and men under 25 can
access chlamydia testing - this
includes testing in other settings
such as youth clubs and colleges.
You can also buy home chlamydia
testing kits, but the accuracy of these
tests varies so it's important to get
good advice from a pharmacist.
Women having intrauterine
contraception (IUD or IUS) fitted, or
having an abortion, will be offered a
chlamydia test.
The test is simple and painless.
Either a urine test is done or a swab
(like a cotton bud) is used to take a
sample of cells from the vagina or
urethra. If you've had anal or oral
sex, a swab will be taken from the
rectum or throat. Your eyes will be
tested if you have symptoms of
conjunctivitis (discharge from the
Chlamydia is easy to treat with
antibiotics, either as a single dose or
longer course for up to two weeks.
Tell your doctor or nurse if you're
pregnant, or think you might be, or
you're breastfeeding - this might
affect the type of antibiotic you're
given. The antibiotics used to treat
chlamydia interact with the
combined oral contraceptive pill and
the contraceptive patch, making
them less effective, so check this with
the doctor or nurse.
To avoid reinfection, any sexual
partners should be treated too.
Every time you have a new sexual
partner you need to be tested. If
complications occur, another
treatment might be needed.
Without treatment, the infection can
spread to other parts of the body
causing damage and long-term
health problems, including infertility.
In women, chlamydia can cause
pelvic inflammatory disease. This can
lead to:
Ectopic pregnancy (when a
pregnancy develops outside the
womb, usually in the fallopian
Blocked fallopian tubes (the tubes
that carry the egg from ovary to
Long-term pelvic pain.
In men, chlamydia can lead to
painful infection in the testicles and
possibly reduced fertility.
Rarely, chlamydia can lead to
inflammation of the joints in both
men and women. This is known as
reactive arthritis. When this involves
the urethra and the eyes, it is known
as Reiter's syndrome.
Advice and support
Go to your GP, a GUM clinic or a
sexual health clinic. All services are
confidential. You can also ask a

How to avoid STIs

Male and female condoms, when
used correctly, can help protect
against STIs.
Before you have sex, talk to your
partner about using condoms.
Use condoms every time you have
vaginal or anal sex.
If you have oral sex, use a dam.

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