Chlamydia Information, Testing & Treatment
Chlamydia is a bacterial infection which affects the cervix and the urethra in women and the
urethra in men. Chlamydia is the most common STI and, quite often, there are no
outward symptoms to indicate that anything is wrong. Chlamydia can, if left
untreated, cause very unwelcome complications.
Chlamydia is known as a "silent" disease due to the fact that about three
quarters of infected women and about half of infected men have no symptoms. If
an infected person has symptoms they will usually appear within 1 to 3 weeks of
If left untreated, Chlamydia infections can develop into to serious reproductive
and general health problems. Like the disease itself, the damage that Chlamydia
causes is often "silent."
In up to 40 percent of women, untreated infections can spread into the uterus or
fallopian tubes and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
This can cause permanent damage to the fallopian tubes, uterus, and surrounding
tissues and lead to chronic pelvic pain, infertility, and an ectopic
pregnancy. Women infected with Chlamydia are up to five times more likely to
become infected with HIV, if exposed.
Men with signs or symptoms might have a discharge from
their penis or a burning sensation when urinating. Men might also have burning
and itching around the opening of the penis. Pain and swelling in the testicles
In women, the bacteria initially infect the cervix
and the urethra which can result in an abnormal vaginal discharge or a burning
sensation when urinating. When the infection spreads from the cervix to the
fallopian tubes some women still have no signs or symptoms; others have lower
abdominal pain, low back pain, nausea, fever, pain during intercourse, or
bleeding between menstrual periods. If left untreated Chlamydia can lead to
In pregnant women, there is some evidence that untreated Chlamydia infections can
lead to premature births. Babies born to infected mothers can get Chlamydia
infections in their eyes and their respiratory tracts. Chlamydia is the most
frequent cause of pneumonia and conjunctivitis in newborn babies.
Chlamydia can also lead to a painful joint condition known as
Sexually Acquired Reactive Arthritis.
Testing and treatment
Chlamydia can be easily tested by taking a swab or by using a urine test. If the
test is positive then it can be treated with antibiotics. The most common
treatment is azithromycin as it is a one off dose. Another treatment is
doxycycline but this is usually a one week course. Re-testing for Chlamydia is
not normally required as the treatments are highly effective. If you need to be
tested again based on medical advice or persistence of symptoms, we recommend
that you leave at least 3 weeks clear after treatment has been completed. Testing
inside this window can lead to false results. It is essential that all
current and recent sexual partners are also treated; even if they do not have
It is recommended that you do not have sex for at least 7 days after you finish
your treatment. This will ensure that you are completely clear and not able to
pass on the infection.
If you are suffering any symptoms such as genital discharge or a burning
sensation when you urinate, we recommend the Full Sexual Health Screen so that
we can determine what is causing the problem. Please do not try to
guess which infection you may have as it is normally difficult to determine this
without a test!