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How Easily Is Chlamydia Transmitted

How Long Does It Take To Show Up On A Test

Chlamydia: Sexually Transmitted Infection Symptoms and Treatment

There are several tests that you doctor might use to diagnose chlamydia:

  • Urine test. Youll pee in a cup thats sent off to a laboratory testing facility to see if any chlamydia bacteria are present in your urine.
  • Blood test. Your doctor will use a sterile needle to draw some of your blood and send it to a lab to see if antibodies to the chlamydia bacteria are present in your bloodstream.
  • Swab. Your doctor will use a cotton round or stick to take a small sample of tissue or fluid that carries the infection, which is then sent to a lab to be cultured so that lab technicians can see what bacteria grows from the sample.

How long it takes for the results to show up depends on the test and on your specific health insurance plan.

  • Urine tests take about 2 to 5 days to show a positive or negative result.
  • Blood tests can come back with results in a few minutes if the blood is analyzed on site. But they can take a week or more if sent to an off-site lab.
  • Swab results take about 2 to 3 days to show a positive or negative.

1 to 3 weeks to show up in people with vulvas.

Symptoms may take up a few months to show up. This is because bacteria are living creatures and have an incubation period that affects how long it takes them to cluster together and become infectious.

This incubation period is dependent on a variety of factors, including:

When Should Someone Seek Medical Care For Chlamydia

The most urgent time to seek medical care for a chlamydial infection is when an individual is pregnant and has had recent sexual exposure to an infected individual and/or has developed early symptoms of a chlamydial infection. Additionally, if individuals are experiencing any symptoms of chlamydial infections, they should seek medical care quickly. Sexual partners should be notified if they have had recent contact with an infected individual.

Patients with gonorrhea have a 30%-50% chance of being coinfected with chlamydia. However, the reverse is not true. Patients with chlamydial infections have a less than 1% chance of being coinfected with Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

Rules For Successful Treatment

The patient should make sure that the doctor is informed if the patient is pregnant or has any allergies. These conditions influence the choice of the medicine prescribed. No matter which antibiotic the patient takes treating chlamydia the following points should be remembered:

  • The treatment of all partners on the infected person is obligatory
  • Abstain from sex contacts during the treatment and until the negative result on chlamydia test is received
  • It is unadvisable to interrupt the course of antibiotics treatment as it will result in the necessity to start again from the beginning. Although the symptoms may disappear, the infection may still remain in the body
  • It is necessary to get tested after 34 months after the end of the treatment to make sure the infection is no longer in the body.

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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.

The number of reported cases is substantially lower than the true estimated incidence, 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.

How Can You Tell If You Have Chlamydia

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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 look very different in men and women. If your male partner experiences urethritis , or has discharge from his penis, he may have chlamydia. If thatâs the case, you should both test for sexually transmitted infections.

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How To Avoid Chlamydia

The best way to avoid chlamydia is to always use protection when you arent certain that your partner is STI-free.

Vaginal and anal sex

For vaginal or anal sex, you should always use condoms. Lubricant can help prevent condoms from splitting. If you are using latex condoms, you should not use oil-based lubricants as these can damage the condom.

Oral sex

For oral sex, you can use condoms to cover the penis and prevent the transmission of infected semen into the mouth or eyes. Dental dams can also be used for oral sex these are thin, soft pieces of plastic or latex that are placed over the vagina or genital area, which provide a protective barrier.

Sex toys

When sharing sex toys, you can avoid the transmission of chlamydia and other STIs by washing the toys between uses or covering them with a fresh condom.

Are There Complications Of Chlamydia

Chlamydia can cause serious complications if it isnt treated promptly and properly.

Untreated chlamydia can trigger arthritis, skin rashes, and inflammation in the eye or rectum.

For women, chlamydia can spread into the uterus and the fallopian tubes and cause pelvic inflammatory disease . This can cause problems with pregnancy, such as ectopic pregnancy. Women with untreated chlamydia have up to a 1 in 12 chance of becoming infertile. In men, chlamydia can spread to the testicles and the tubes that carry sperm, causing pain and fertility problems.

Pregnant women who are infected with chlamydia have a higher chance of miscarriage or premature birth. Their babies may also get an eye or lung infection. You can read more about chlamydia and pregnancy here.

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Probability Of Chlamydia Transmission

If someone knows or suspects they have been exposed to chlamydia, they should get tested as soon as possible, so that they can have the infection diagnosed and treated if necessary. They should also abstain from sexual activities until they have been tested and received the all-clear.

That said, if someone has had unprotected sex with an infected person, it does not necessarily mean they definitely have chlamydia.

Estimated transmission rates tend to vary and, as discussed above, the likelihood of infection depends on the sexual act performed but Professor Victoria von Sadovszky, an expert from the Ohio State University College of Nursing, states that the transmission rate from a single unprotected exposure is thought to be around 25 percent.

Other estimates put the male-to-female transmission rate from one sexual instance at 40 percent and the female-to-male transmission rate at 32 percent.

Obviously, the more someone has sex with an infected person, the higher the chances of transmission become.

Using barrier protection can reduce the chances of picking up the infection dramatically. Provided they are used accordingly, condoms are thought to be 99 percent effective at reducing the transmission of STIs.

Find out more about preventing chlamydia transmission on our information page.

Who Is At Risk For Chlamydia

What Is Chlamydia Symptoms and Treatment

Any sexually active person can be infected with chlamydia. It is a very common STD, especially among young people.3 It is estimated that 1 in 20 sexually active young women aged 14-24 years has chlamydia.5

Sexually active young people are at high risk of acquiring chlamydia for a combination of behavioral, biological, and cultural reasons. Some young people dont use condoms consistently.15 Some adolescents may move from one monogamous relationship to the next more rapidly than the likely infectivity period of chlamydia, thus increasing risk of transmission.16 Teenage girls and young women may have cervical ectopy .17 Cervical ectopy may increase susceptibility to chlamydial infection. The higher prevalence of chlamydia among young people also may reflect multiple barriers to accessing STD prevention services, such as lack of transportation, cost, and perceived stigma.16-20

Men who have sex with men are also at risk for chlamydial infection since chlamydia can be transmitted by oral or anal sex. Among MSM screened for rectal chlamydial infection, positivity has ranged from 3.0% to 10.5%.6.7 Among MSM screened for pharyngeal chlamydial infection, positivity has ranged from 0.5% to 2.3%.7.8

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What Can Happen If Chlamydia Is Not Treated

Untreated chlamydia can cause serious health problems in women, including:

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease , an infection of a woman’s reproductive organs. PID can lead to chronic pelvic pain, pregnancy problems, and infertility . Untreated chlamydia is a common cause of PID. It affects about 10% to 15% of women with untreated chlamydia.4
  • Increased risk of getting HIV from sexual activity

Can Chlamydia Be Cured

Yes, chlamydia can be cured with the right treatment. It is important that you take all of the medication your doctor prescribes to cure your infection. When taken properly it will stop the infection and could decrease your chances of having complications later on. You should not share medication for chlamydia with anyone.

Repeat infection with chlamydia is common. You should be tested again about three months after you are treated, even if your sex partner was treated.

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How Can Chlamydia Be Prevented

Latex male condoms, when used consistently and correctly, can reduce the risk of getting or giving chlamydia.53 The surest way to avoid chlamydia is to abstain from vaginal, anal, and oral sex, or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and is known to be uninfected.

How Long Does It Take To Show Up In People With Penises

Chlamydia Symptoms, Pictures, Treatment

Theres no significant difference in the amount of time it takes for chlamydia symptoms to show up for people with penises as compared to people with vulvas.

The only major difference in the time it takes for symptoms to show up among people of various sexes may be related to how often symptoms show up.

According to the Childrens National Health System, 90 percent of people with vulvas dont ever experience any physical symptoms, while 70 percent of people with penises never notice any symptoms.

This difference in who actually experiences symptoms between these two groups may have some effect on how long it takes for symptoms show up. But theres never been any definitive link between your sex and when your symptoms appear.

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How Does Chlamydia Spread

Chlamydia is transmitted by sexual contact with the penis, vagina, anus and/or rectal area, and mouth of the infected individual. Occasionally, if the eyes are infected, ocular secretions may contain transmissible bacteria. The organisms are simply transmitted by contact, usually by direct physical contact. Chlamydia bacteria are easily spread. They spread from females to males and vice versa through sexual contact.

When To See A Doctor

If a person has symptoms of chlamydia after testing and treatment or thinks that they have come into contact with chlamydia again, they should see their doctor.

Females are less likely than males to have symptoms of chlamydia, so testing is especially important for them.

The recommend chlamydia testing every year for the following groups of people:

  • sexually active females under the age of 25 years
  • females over the age of 25 years who have new or multiple sexual partners
  • anyone with a sexual partner who has an STI
  • sexually active gay and bisexual males

Pregnant women should have a chlamydia test early on in their pregnancy.

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Young Sexually Active Women Are Most Susceptible

Women between ages 15 and 24 are most likely to be newly infected with chlamydia, according to the CDC, but anyone who is sexually active male or female can be infected. Men who have oral or anal sex with men are also at risk, notes the CDC. The CDC recommends regular chlamydia screenings for people at an increased risk of contracting it.

You should be screened annually for chlamydia if you are:

  • A sexually active woman under age 25
  • A woman age 25 or older who has multiple sexual partners
  • A woman whose sexual partner may have multiple sexual partners
  • Pregnant and under age 25 or pregnant and age 25 or older with an increased risk
  • A man who has sex with men
  • At an increased risk for other health reasons

I would emphasize that young women should be screened if they engage in any sexual behavior that puts them at risk because often has no symptoms, and early treatment is important to avoid long-term damage and infertility, Dr. Schaffir says.

Screening for chlamydia is painless: It usually involves testing a urine sample or a specimen swabbed from the vagina or penis. Some lab tests for chlamydia can use specimens from the throat or rectum.

How Do You Get Tested

STD Glossary: Chlamydia

There are several different reliable tests for chlamydia. Newer tests, called NAATs , are very accurate and easy to take. Your healthcare provider can explain what testing options are available . If you dont have a regular healthcare provider, you can search here for a clinic near you.

People infected with chlamydia are often also infected with gonorrhea, so patients with chlamydia are often treated for gonorrhea at the same time, since the cost of treatment is generally less than the cost of testing.

If you live in Alaska, Maryland, or Washington, D.C., you can have a free at-home chlamydia test. Visit iwantthekit.org for more information.

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How To Treat Chlamydia

Chlamydia is an easy infection to treat, and can be completely cured if the necessary medication is taken correctly.

Being a bacterial infection, chlamydia can be treated with antibiotics. Chlamydia treatment for uncomplicated infection usually consists of taking an antibiotic tablet for seven days.

You should take your antibiotics exactly as directed by your doctor. More than 95% of people who take their antibiotics correctly will be completely cured. It’s also important not to have any sex during your treatment and get all partners tested and treated if necessary.

How Is Chlamydia Spread Does Chlamydia Always Get Passed On

You can obtain chlamydia by having genital, rectal, or foreplay with somebody that has chlamydia.

If your sex partner is male you can still obtain chlamydia even if he does not ejaculate.

If youve had chlamydia and were dealt with in the past, you can still obtain infected again. This can take place if you have unprotected sex with someone who has chlamydia.

If you are expectant, you can give chlamydia to your infant throughout childbirth.

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How Easily Is Chlamydia Transmitted During Sexual Intercourse

Unfortunately, chlamydia is very easily transmitted through unprotected sexual contact. This is especially true because chlamydia infections are sometimes asymptomaticâmeaning they donât cause noticeable symptoms.

In fact, any time you come in contact with the bacteriaâeven if your sex partner doesnât ejaculate or you arenât fully penetratedâyou could become infected or pass along the chlamydial infection. This being the case, men and women should get tested for STIs before beginning any new sexual relationship.

Testing And Treating Sexual Partners

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If you test positive for chlamydia, its important that your current sexual partner and any other recent sexual partners youve 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

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How Urgent Is A Post

Post-exposure treatment for chlamydia should be done as soon as possible after diagnosis or exposure. Be sure to let your healthcare provider know that you may have had exposure to chlamydia or if you want to get tested for STIs.

While there is no specific deadline to get treated, the longer chlamydia remains in your body, the greater you risk complications, including long-term, serious damage. Though these complications may not be common, it’s important to get tested and treated as soon as possible.

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