Essential Facts About Chlamydia
Chlamydia often causes no symptoms in the short term, but it can have serious health consequences if it goes untreated.
David M Phillips/Getty Images
If youre sexually active, you should know about chlamydia, a common sexually transmitted bacterial infection. These 10 facts will bring you up to speed on whos at risk, why regular screening is so important, and how to avoid getting chlamydia and other sexually transmitted infections .
How Chlamydia Diagnosis Process Is Carried On In Men
Early treatment of Chlamydia is essential to have a healthy life ahead. In case if you had unprotected sex with your recent partner then you must get tested for STIs as soon as possible. This test can be carried out at any local GUM clinic or GP. With improved facilities of digital world, patients can also order Chlamydia test kits to their home from online sources.
What Can Be Done To Prevent The Spread Of Chlamydia
- Limit your number of sex partners
- Use a male or female condom
- If you think you are infected or have been exposed, avoid any sexual contact and visit a local sexually transmitted disease clinic, a hospital or your doctor. Either bring your sex partners with you when you are treated or notify them immediately so they can obtain examination and treatment.
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What Can Happen If Chlamydia Isnt Treated
Untreated chlamydia can put your health at risk. Make an appointment with your provider immediately if you notice any symptoms of chlamydia, and get regular STI screenings to avoid complications later.
Complications of chlamydia for people with vaginas
Untreated chlamydia can cause:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease . PID is a serious condition that requires hospitalization. It can occur when an untreated STI, like chlamydia, damages your reproductive organs. PID can lead to infertility and chronic pelvic pain. It can also cause an ectopic pregnancy, which is life-threatening for the fetus and potentially deadly for the mother or gestational parent, too.
- Pregnancy complications. An untreated infection can lead to pre-term delivery. Also, if youre pregnant and have chlamydia, you can pass the infection on to your newborn. Babies born with chlamydia may have pneumonia or conjunctivitis that could lead to blindness if not treated.
Complications of chlamydia for people with penises
Untreated chlamydia can cause:
- Epididymitis. Infection can spread to the testicles and the tube that carries sperm to your testicles , causing symptoms like pain, swelling and tenderness in your testicles.
- Reduced fertility. Chlamydia can harm your sperm, negatively impacting your ability to conceive.
Complications of chlamydia that can affect all genders
Untreated chlamydia can:
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How Did I Get Chlamydia If I Didnt Cheat
A note from Cleveland Clinic
It can be embarrassing to talk about anything sex-related with your healthcare provider, including STI prevention. But your sex life is an important part of your health that your provider needs to know about to care for you. Not getting the treatment you need for chlamydia can pose serious risks to your health. Speak with your provider about getting regularly screened for chlamydia and other STIs to reduce your risks of complications. Practice safer sex to prevent the spread of chlamydia.
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Treating Chlamydia In Men
If you are exhibiting symptoms or you have a sexual partner who has already tested positive, you will likely be given treatment for chlamydia even before your test results come back .
Chlamydia is treated with antibiotics, often a single dose of azithromycin . If there is a concern for a possible co-infection with gonorrhea, youll also get a single injection of an antibiotic called ceftriaxone . This is typically the case when treatment is presumptive .
An alternative first-line treatment regimen is a 7-day course of doxycycline . This replaces the single dose of azithromycin. If you have additional issues, like epididymitis or LGV, you may need a longer treatment course .
What Are The Long
If left untreated, chlamydia can lead to other, sometimes serious, health problems.
In women, untreated chlamydia cause pelvic inflammatory disease . PID can cause pelvic pain, infertility , and ectopic pregnancy which can be life-threatening. PID can be treated with antibiotics.
In men, untreated chlamydia can cause swelling in the epididymis and the testicles. Rarely, it can cause infertility in men.
Chlamydia can also cause reactive arthritis in both women and men inflammation of the joints, and in some people, the urethra and the eyes .
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Nucleic Acid Amplification Test
The most common test for chlamydia, this is a simple, non-invasive test during which you collect a swab or urine sample yourself . A doctor can assist in taking a swab if you prefer.
The sample is then sent to be tested to see if there is genetic material that indicates the presence of chlamydia bacteria. Results come back quicker than the traditional culture test.
What Are The Potential Complications
If treated in time, chlamydia causes no lasting concerns. Untreated chlamydia can lead to complications as the infection spreads to other areas of the body.
Untreated chlamydia may cause sexually-acquired reactive arthritis, which includes skin, eye and joint problems. It is also associated with a higher chance of getting HIV.
In women, complications may include difficulty getting pregnant, ectopic or tubal pregnancy or pelvic inflammatory disease . See HealthLinkBC File #08c Pelvic Inflammatory Disease for more information.
In men, complications may include an infection in the testicles, which can lead to infertility.
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What Are The Other Risks Of Untreated Chlamydia In Men
Untreated chlamydia in men can also cause sexually acquired reactive arthritis . This can lead to inflamed joints, eyes, or urethra causing pain when urinating. SARA is more common in men than women. There is no cure for SARA however, most people get better within a few months. The symptoms of SARA can be treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , such as ibuprofen.
Men with chlamydia have an increased risk of getting other infections including gonorrhea or HIV.
How Chlamydia’s Passed On
Chlamydia is usually passed from one person to another through sexual contact.
Chlamydia is most commonly spread through:
- sharing sex toys that arent washed or covered with a new condom each time theyre used.
It can be spread by giving or receiving oral sex with someone who has chlamydia. The risk can be lowered by using a condom or a dam to cover the genitals.
If youre pregnant its possible to pass chlamydia to the baby .
You cant get chlamydia from kissing, hugging, sharing baths or towels, swimming pools, toilet seats or from sharing cups, plates or cutlery.
Signs And Symptoms Of Chlamydia In Men
Chlamydia doesnât cause symptoms in many people, which is why itâs so easily spread. At least 50% of men with the infection show no symptoms. This means they donât know theyâve got it, and continue to engage in unprotected sexual activity, without seeking treatment.
For those men who do have symptoms, they can include:
Letting Partners Know You Have Chlamydia
Sexual partners may be infected too. If you have chlamydia, anyone you have had sex with from the last 6 months needs to be informed, tested and treated.
If they dont know, they could reinfect you or infect someone else if they are not treated. dont receive treatment.
Most people will appreciate being told they may have an infection and it is an important step in preventing further infection in the community.
Your local GP and sexual health centre can help you inform your partners and let them know that they need a test. This process is called partner notification. It can be done anonymously, and your confidentiality is always respected.
You can also anonymously notify your sexual partners of the need to get tested and treated for chlamydia via the Let Them Know website if you feel unable to speak to them personally.
There are also nurses who can help you anonymously notify your partners. They can be contacted on .
Diagnosing Chlamydial Urethritis In Men
Your doctor will perform a series of lab tests to diagnose chlamydial urethritis. Youll be asked to give a urine sample, which will be tested for the presence of the chlamydia organism.
You may also need a urethral discharge culture, or swab test, to rule out gonorrhea. Gonorrhea symptoms often look like the symptoms of chlamydia. Its possible to have both at the same time.
Is It Possible To Spot Chlamydia In Pictures
Most people often wonder if they can recognize the signs of chlamydia from pictures and whether or not this infection has any visible signs. Unfortunately, the answer is no. Its impossible to tell if a man is infected with chlamydia just by looking at a picture.
Whileit is possible to spot an irritated or swollen area, these signs could becaused by any other infection. To be 100% sure a man is infected, he needs toget a chlamydia test there is no other way.
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Untreated Chlamydia In Men And Women: How It Can Affect Your Health
If a chlamydial infection isnât detected and treated promptly, it can harm your healthâeven if you didnât experience symptoms when the infection first began.
Untreated chlamydia in men can lead to:
- Nongonococcal urethritis , or an infection of the urethra that can cause symptoms like painful or frequent urination, abnormal genital discharge, and more
- Epididymitis, or an infection of the epididymis , which can result in testicular pain and swelling
- Proctitis, or inflammation of the rectum
Untreated chlamydia in women may lead to:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease , which can cause chronic pelvic pain and infertility
- Ectopic pregnancy, which occurs when a fertilized egg implants and grows outside of the uterus, often in a fallopian tube
- Preterm birth in pregnant womenâas well as eye infection, blindness, or pneumonia in babies born through vaginal delivery
Chlamydia Is Common But Many People Dont Realize They Have It
About 1.7 million chlamydia infections were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2017, but the real number is likely higher because chlamydia is considered an underreported infection.
âThe number of reported cases is substantially lower than the true estimated incidence,â says Bradley Stoner, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and former president of the American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association.
The National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System relies on state and local public health departments to collect and report data on chlamydia to the CDC. Those public health departments depend on individual physicians, hospitals, and laboratories to report cases of chlamydia to them. Accurate statistics require all parties to routinely comply with disease-reporting mandates.
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Chlamydia may also be a cause of urethral stricture disease in men. This is a condition in which the urethra narrows, which can cause several issues with urination . Surgery may be necessary to correct urethral stricture disease .
Lastly, in men who have urethritis, chlamydia can cause an immune reaction called reactive arthritisthis occurs in approximately 1% of men with urethritis. Reactive arthritis can cause pain, swelling, redness, and stiffness of the joints. It typically affects the knees, ankles, and feet but can also occur in other joints. People with reactive arthritis may also experience lower back pain, pain where tendons and ligaments connect to the bone , and swollen sausage fingers .
Several types of bacterial infections can cause reactive arthritis, but chlamydia is one of the most common. Some people with urethritis and arthritis also develop conjunctivitis or uveitis . This triad of symptoms of urethritis, arthritis, and eye inflammation is called Reiters syndrome.
How To Stop The Spread Of Infection
Therisk of contracting and transmitting chlamydia is very high, so any precautionsyou can take will prove a valuable asset to your sexual health. To stop thespread of the infection, you should:
- Use condoms during intercourse
- Suggest to your partner that you both get tested for STIs before having unprotected sex
- Cover all the sex toys you share with your partner with condoms
Chlamydiais a serious issue for men. The problem is that most men dont experience anysigns, and that is typical for those infected. If you havent used a condomwhile having intercourse with multiple partners, its important to get tested.That way, you can avoid any unwanted complications and treat the infection ontime.
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What Are The Long Term Complications In Men
Although very rare, chlamydia can affect male fertility. This happens if chlamydia causes the tubes that carry the male sperm to become inflamed.
Although the condition, also known as epididymitis, is treatable with antibiotics it can cause irreversible scarring to the tubes which restricts the flow of sperm. Luckily long term damage like this is rare, but its just another reason to get tested for chlamydia regularly.
Why Do I Need A Chlamydia Test
Chlamydia is a very common STD, especially in sexually active people ages 15 to 24. But chlamydia usually doesnât cause symptoms, so the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health organizations recommend regular screening tests if your risk of getting chlamydia is high.
If you are a woman or a transgender or gender diverse person with a cervix , you should:
- Get tested for chlamydia at least once a year if you are:
- Younger than 25 and having sex
- Age 25 or older and have a higher risk of getting chlamydia because you:
- Have a new sex partner or more than one partner
- Have a sex partner who is having sex with others
- Have a sex partner with an STD
- Donât use condoms correctly every time
Regular chlamydia testing at least once a year is also recommended if you:
The best testing schedule for you may be different than the recommendations. Ask your provider how often you should get tested.
Your provider will order a test if your sex partner has been diagnosed with chlamydia or if you have symptoms. Symptoms of chlamydia may include:
- An unusual discharge from your genitals or rectum
- Irritation or itching around your genitals
- Pain or burning when you urinate
- Rectal pain or bleeding if chlamydia infects the rectum
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How To Prepare For The Test
If you think you may have chlamydia, avoid sexual intercourse until you get your test results.
has found that home tests may be as effective for diagnosing chlamydia as swabs collected at your doctors office.
However, its important to note that home testing kits can sometimes return false-negative results. A 2017 study asked men to self-collect a sample for chlamydia testing both at a clinic and at home using a mail-in kit. Researchers found that over one-third of the mail-in samples missed a positive result that was detected in the samples collected at the clinic.
The researchers note that its possible that the collection technique when using a home test may affect the quality of the sample and therefore affect your result. Because of this, be sure to follow all sample collection instructions carefully if you choose to do a home test for chlamydia.
If you receive a positive result from a home testing kit, you will need to go immediately to a doctor to receive treatment. Until you have completed treatment, you can give chlamydia to your sexual partners.
If youre diagnosed with chlamydia, prompt treatment will help prevent any long-term complications. The key is to test for this bacterial infection before it spreads.
You can get a chlamydia test from:
- your primary care doctor
Due to the prevalence of chlamydia, its important to get yearly tests if you:
You may need to get tested more often than once a year.
How To Prevent Chlamydia
- Use condoms Condoms are an easy way to protect the exchange of genital fluids. However, its vital to remember to use them during all sexual activity, including oral. You must also ensure you do not transfer any fluids to the eyes.
- Check your sexual partner do not have any STIs The safest way to prevent contracting chlamydia is to check with partners that they are not carrying anything. This can be difficult as not everyone has symptoms. Therefore, requesting a recent medical certificate to show they are clear is an excellent way to know. This is also good practice for any new sexual partner, even for a long-term relationship.
- Have regular check-ups Taking blood tests to check for STIs at least once a year is a healthy practice if you are sexually active with new or multiple partners.
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- Talk to your sexual partner If you and someone else are engaging in casual sex with multiple partners, you must communicate with them about safe sex. Have an open and honest conversation with each other and ensure they tell you and you tell them if you are having sex with other people.
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Does Discharge In Men Mean They Are Infected
Thepresence of watery, cloudy, or white discharge is the main concern for many menand is often the primary sign of chlamydia. However, if a man has a discharge,it doesnt mean he is infected with chlamydia. There are other infections thatcause the same symptoms as:
- urinarytract infection
Becauseof how misleading discharge can be, its important to get tested to make surethe sign is not caused by anything else other than chlamydia.