When To Seek Medical Advice
If you have any symptoms of chlamydia, visit your GP, community contraceptive service or local genitourinary medicine clinic as soon as possible.
You should also get tested if you don’t have any symptoms but are concerned you could have a sexually transmitted infection .
If you’re a woman, sexually active and under 25 in England, it’s recommended that you have a chlamydia test once a year, and when you have sex with new or casual partners.
If you’re a man, sexually active and under 25 in England, it’s recommended that you have a chlamydia test once a year if you are not using condoms with new or casual partners.
Read more about chlamydia diagnosis.
Page last reviewed: 01 September 2021 Next review due: 01 September 2024
How Soon Do Sti Symptoms Appear
It depends on which sexually transmitted infection you have.
Symptoms can develop within a few days or weeks, but sometimes they do not appear until months or even years later.
Often there are few or no symptoms and you may not know you have an STI.
If there’s any chance you have an STI, go to a sexual health clinic or GP for a free and confidential check-up.
What Does Chlamydia Infection Mean For My Health
Chlamydia can be treated and cured easily, but that doesnt mean that chlamydia infection isnt potentially dangerous. If chlamydia isnt diagnosed and left untreated, it can cause serious complications.
Untreated chlamydia infections in women may lead to:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease , a serious infection of the reproductive organs . Left untreated, PID can cause infertility , chronic pelvic pain, or ectopic pregnancy.
- A condition called mucopurulent cervicitis, characterized by a yellow discharge from the cervix
Untreated chlamydia in men may lead to:
- Scarring of the urethra
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How Is It Treated
Antibiotics are used to treat chlamydia. It’s important to take all of the medicine as directed. Otherwise the medicine may not work. Both sex partners need treatment to keep from passing the infection back and forth.
As soon as you find out you have chlamydia, be sure to let your sex partners know. Experts recommend that you notify everyone you’ve had sex with in the past 2 months. If you have not had sex in the past 2 months, contact the last person you had sex with.
Having a chlamydia infection that was cured does not protect you from getting it again. If you are treated and your sex partner is not, you probably will get it again.
Some people who have chlamydia also have other STIs, such as gonorrhea.
Finding out that you have an STI may make you feel bad about yourself or about sex. Counselling or a support group may help you feel better.
What To Think About
Some people who have chlamydia may also have gonorrhea. In that case, treatment includes antibiotics that kill both chlamydia and gonorrhea. For more information, see the topic Gonorrhea.
Reinfection can occur. Symptoms that continue after treatment are probably caused by another chlamydia infection rather than treatment failure. To prevent reinfection, sex partners need to be evaluated and treated.
Repeated chlamydia infections increase the risk for pelvic inflammatory disease . Even one infection can lead to PID without proper treatment. Make sure to take your antibiotics exactly as prescribed. Take the full course of medicine, even if you feel better in a couple of days.
Some doctors recommend retesting 6 months after treatment to reduce the risk of complications from reinfection.footnote 3
If you have chlamydia, your doctor will send a report to the provincial or territorial health unit. Your personal information is kept confidential. The health unit may contact you about telling your sex partner or partners that they may need treatment.
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What Happens If I Get Chlamydia When Im Pregnant
- Chlamydia during pregnancy has been associated in very rare cases with problems such as premature birth, and infection of the uterus lining after the birth.
- It can be passed to the baby during the birth and before the baby is born. This can cause inflammation and discharge in the babys eye and/or pneumonia.
- You may be offered a chlamydia test as part of your antenatal care.
- Chlamydia can be treated with antibiotics when youre pregnant and when youre breastfeeding. The antibiotics wont harm the baby, but do tell the doctor or nurse that youre pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Youll be advised to have another test after you complete your treatment.
Male Complications Of Untreated Chlamydia
Men can also experience complications when chlamydia is left untreated. The epididymis the tube that holds the testicles in place may become inflamed, causing pain. This is known as epididymitis.
The infection can also spread to the prostate gland, causing a fever, painful intercourse, and discomfort in the lower back. Another possible complication is male chlamydial urethritis.
These are just some of the most common complications of untreated chlamydia, which is why its important to get medical attention right away. Most people who get treatment quickly have no long-term medical problems.
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Testing And Treating Sexual Partners
If you test positive for chlamydia, it’s important that your current sexual partner and any other recent sexual partners you’ve had are also tested and treated.
A specialist sexual health adviser can help you contact your recent sexual partners, or the clinic can contact them for you if you prefer.
Either you or someone from the clinic can speak to them, or the clinic can send them a note to let them know they may have been exposed to a sexually transmitted infection .
The note will suggest that they go for a check-up. It will not have your name on it, so your confidentiality will be protected.
Page last reviewed: 01 September 2021 Next review due: 01 September 2024
Am I At Risk For Chlamydia
If you are sexually active, have an honest and open talk with your healthcare provider. Ask them if you should get tested for chlamydia or other STDs. Gay or bisexual men and pregnant people should also get tested for chlamydia. If you are a sexually active woman, you should get tested for chlamydia every year if you are:
- Younger than 25 years old.
- 25 years and older with risk factors, such as new or multiple sex partners, or a sex partner who has a sexually transmitted infection.
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How Is Pharyngeal Chlamydia Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider takes a throat swab to check for pharyngeal chlamydia. However, checking throat swabs is not necessarily part of a routine chlamydia test. If your healthcare provider has only collected a urine sample or a vaginal swab, let them know that you would like to be checked for oral chlamydia as well. A urine sample or vaginal swab can come back negative for chlamydia even if you have a pharyngeal infection.
How Is Chlamydia Diagnosed
The most common test for chlamydia is called a nucleic acid amplification test . Your provider takes a sample of fluid by doing a vaginal/cervical swab or collecting a urine sample. Then, they send the sample off to a lab to check for the bacteria that causes chlamydia. Your provider may do the test in an office, or they may ask you to do an at-home chlamydia test. Follow your providers instructions carefully to ensure you get accurate test results.
Because most chlamydia cases are asymptomatic, its important to get screened for chlamydia even if you dont notice any signs of infection. The CDC recommends that sexually active cisgender women who are high-risk for chlamydia get screened regularly. Women, more so than men, experience the most severe complications from chlamydia. Transgender men and nonbinary individuals with vaginas should be screened regularly, too, as they can experience the same complications of chlamydia.
Youre considered high-risk if you:
- Have had chlamydia infections previously.
Cisgender men, or trans and nonbinary individuals with penises, should be screened for chlamydia if:
- They live in a setting where chlamydia spreads frequently, like correctional facilities, adolescent clinics and sexual health clinics.
- They have sex with other men.
Read Also: Can You Spread Chlamydia After Being Treated
You Can Get Chlamydia More Than Once
With some diseases, having one infection makes you immune to future infections. That’s not the case with chlamydia. If you engage in sexual activity with a person who has a chlamydia infection, you can get it again, even if you’ve just completed treatment for it.
“Both partners should be treated before reinitiating sexual intercourse to prevent relapse,” Schaffir says.
Do I Need To Get Tested For Chlamydia
- If you are 24 or younger and have sex, you need to get tested for chlamydia.3 Chlamydia is most common in women between 15 and 24 years old.2 You need to get tested if you have had any symptoms of chlamydia since your last negative test result or if your sex partner has chlamydia.
- If you are older than 24, you need to get tested if, in the past year or since your last test, you:3
- Had a new sex partner
- Had your sex partner tell you they have chlamydia
- Traded sex for money or drugs
- Have had chlamydia or another STI in the past
- Did not use condoms during sex and are in a relationship that is not monogamous, meaning you or your partner has sex with other people
You also need to be tested if you are pregnant or if you have any symptoms of chlamydia.
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When Should I See My Healthcare Provider
When it comes to chlamydia, its a good idea to be proactive. Speak with your healthcare provider about your risks of infection. Make a plan to get screened regularly for STIs based on your providers recommendations for how often you should be tested. Make an appointment with your healthcare provider if your partner tests positive for chlamydia or if you notice any signs or symptoms that you may be infected.
Can You Get Rid Of Chlamydia
Chlamydia can be cured with antibiotics. The best way to cure chlamydia and keep from infecting your partners, is to avoid sex for seven days, until the antibiotics have done their job. If you do end up having sex while the antibiotics are still working it is really important to use a condom or else it is likely the medicine you took wont work. If you got medication to take at home make sure you take all of the pills, even if you start to feel better otherwise the infection might not go away completely.
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How Can You Tell If You Have Chlamydia
You can have chlamydia without experiencing any symptoms. In fact, many womenâapproximately 70% of those who are infectedâare completely asymptomatic, which means that they are also unaware that they are carrying Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria.
The lack of symptoms can cause health problems over time because an untreated chlamydia infection can lead to complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease . Also, if you become pregnant and have chlamydia, you may develop an ectopic pregnancy . Some people with untreated chlamydia may develop reactive arthritis, a form of joint inflammation thatâs caused by the chlamydia bacterium . Untreated chlamydia can also damage your reproductive organs, which could potentially lead to infertility.
Thankfully, effective treatments exist for chlamydial infections. But to get treatment, you first need to determine if you have chlamydia in the first place. As mentioned above, you could have chlamydia without any symptoms. But there are certain telltale symptoms you may experience that can help identify it.
Chlamydia symptoms in women look different. You may develop abnormal vaginal discharge, and you may experience a burning sensation when urinating. You might also experience pelvic pain, which could manifest as lower abdominal pain. Occasionally, you can develop spotting .
Is Chlamydia Serious
Although chlamydia does not usually cause any symptoms and can normally be treated with a short course of antibiotics, it can be serious if its not treated early on.
If left untreated, the infection can spread to other parts of your body and lead to long-term health problems, especially in women.
In women, untreated chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease , ectopic pregnancy and infertility.
In men, in rare cases, chlamydia can spread to the testicles and epididymis , causing them to become painful and swollen. This is known as epididymitis or epididymo-orchitis .
It can also sometimes cause reactive arthritis in men and women.
This is why its important to get tested and treated as soon as possible if you think you might have chlamydia.
Testing for chlamydia is done with a urine test or a swab test.
You do not always need a physical examination by a nurse or doctor.
Anyone can get a free and confidential chlamydia test at a sexual health clinic, a genitourinary medicine clinic or a GP surgery.
In England, if youre a woman under 25 years old, you may be offered a chlamydia test when you visit some health services, for example a pharmacy or GP. This offer is part of the National Chlamydia Screening Programme .
If youre offered a chlamydia test you should consider taking it.
If youre a woman, sexually active and under 25 in England, its recommended that you have a chlamydia test once a year, and when you have sex with new or casual partners.
Recommended Reading: How To Know If A Female Has Chlamydia
How Is It Diagnosed
Your doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms and your sexual history. You may also have a physical exam to look for signs of infection.
Chlamydia can cause serious problems but may not cause symptoms. That’s why it’s a good idea to get tested once a year if you are at higher risk for getting chlamydia. Talk to your doctor about what testing is right for you.
What Other Problems Can Chlamydia Cause
In women, an untreated infection can spread to your uterus and fallopian tubes, causing pelvic inflammatory disease . PID can cause permanent damage to your reproductive system. This can lead to long-term pelvic pain, infertility, and ectopic pregnancy. Women who have had chlamydia infections more than once are at higher risk of serious reproductive health complications.
Men often don’t have health problems from chlamydia. Sometimes it can infect the epididymis . This can cause pain, fever, and, rarely, infertility.
Both men and women can develop reactive arthritis because of a chlamydia infection. Reactive arthritis is a type of arthritis that happens as a “reaction” to an infection in the body.
Babies born to infected mothers can get eye infections and pneumonia from chlamydia. It may also make it more likely for your baby to be born too early.
Untreated chlamydia may also increase your chances of getting or giving HIV/AIDS.
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How To Protect Yourself Against Chlamydia And Other Stis
Using condoms consistently and correctly helps protect against chlamydia other STIs , HIV and unintended pregnancies.
Regular testing for HIV and STIs is essential for good sexual health and everyone should have a STI screen, including a HIV test, annually if having condomless sex with new or casual partners.
You can find out more about STIs, HIV and sexual health on Terrence Higgins Trusts website.
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Can Chlamydia Be Prevented
The only way to prevent chlamydia and other STDs is to not have sex . If someone decides to have sex, they can lower their risk of getting an STD by:
- using a latex condom every time they have sex
- getting tested with any new partners before having sex
- only having sex with one partner
Anyone who is sexually active should get tested for STDs every year .
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How Common Is Pharyngeal Chlamydia
You may think about cold sores on the mouth caused by the herpes simplex virus , but for the most part, you probably associate other STIs with genital infections. Chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause burning while urinating and discharge syphilis can cause ulcers HSV can cause blisters human papillomavirus can cause warts, and so on. However, many of these STIs can also cause symptoms in other parts of the body, called extragenital infections.
Common parts of the body that are susceptible to extragenital infections are the rectum and mouth or throat since these parts of the body may also be involved in sexual contact. Being aware of infections outside the genital area is important for your sexual health, especially if you want to be screened for STIs. To truly make sure you dont have certain STIs, you cant just rely on a urine sample or vaginal swab. Instead, you need to check everywhere that may be at risk for infection.
Chlamydia is one of the STIs that can cause an extragenital infection and is sometimes found in the throat. This is sometimes called oral chlamydia or pharyngeal chlamydia. Chlamydia is caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis, so when you say you have pharyngeal chlamydia, it means you have an infection with the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis in the throat.
A review of the medical literature shows the rates of oral chlamydia in women, men who have sex with women , and men who have sex with men are as follows :
Chlamydia Symptoms In Women
Chlamydia is often known as the silent infection. Thats because people with chlamydia may not experience symptoms at all.
If a woman contracts the STI, it may take several weeks before any symptoms appear.
Some of the most common symptoms of chlamydia in women include:
- painful sexual intercourse
In some women, the infection can spread to the fallopian tubes, which may cause a condition called pelvic inflammatory disease . PID is a medical emergency.
The symptoms of PID are:
- abnormal vaginal bleeding between periods
Chlamydia can also infect the rectum. Women may not experience symptoms if they have a chlamydia infection in the rectum. If symptoms of a rectal infection do occur, however, they may include rectal pain, discharge, and bleeding.
Additionally, women can develop a throat infection if they have oral sex with someone with the infection. Though its possible to contract it without knowing it, symptoms of a chlamydia infection in your throat include cough, fever, and sore throat.
The symptoms of STIs in men and women can be different, so its important to talk with a healthcare professional if you experience any of the above symptoms.
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