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 3 to 12 months after treatment to reduce the risk of complications from reinfection.footnote 4
If you have chlamydia, your doctor will send a report to the state health department. Your personal information is kept confidential. The health department may contact you about telling your sex partner or partners that they may need treatment.
Essential Facts About Chlamydia
Chlamydia often causes no symptoms in the short term, but it can have serious health consequences if it goes untreated.
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 .
What Happens If Chlamydia Goes Untreated
If a person is not treated for chlamydia, complications may occur. Women frequently develop pelvic inflammatory disease . PID can cause infertility , chronic pelvic pain, tubal pregnancies, and the continued spread of the disease. In men, untreated chlamydia can cause urethral infection and complications such as swollen and tender testicles. Chlamydia infection during pregnancy may result in premature rupture of membranes, preterm delivery and possible tubal pregnancy in a small percent of women. In addition, chlamydia can cause conjunctival and pneumonic infection in the newborn. Persons with a chlamydia infection have an increased chance of getting other infections such as gonorrhea or HIV.
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What Happens If I Dont Get Treated
The initial damage that chlamydia causes often goes unnoticed. However, chlamydia can lead to serious health problems.
If you are a woman, untreated chlamydia can spread to your uterus and fallopian tubes . This can cause pelvic inflammatory disease . PID often has no symptoms, however some women may have abdominal and pelvic pain. Even if it doesnt cause symptoms initially, PID can cause permanent damage to your reproductive system. PID can lead to long-term pelvic pain, inability to get pregnant, and potentially deadly ectopic pregnancy .
Men rarely have health problems linked to chlamydia. Infection sometimes spreads to the tube that carries sperm from the testicles, causing pain and fever. Rarely, chlamydia can prevent a man from being able to have children.
Who Should Get Tested For Chlamydia
Because chlamydia is very common and often has no symptoms, anyone who is sexually active should think about being tested. Because chlamydia is very common among young women, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend sexually active women age 25 or younger get tested once per year. Chlamydia testing is also recommended for women with new or multiple sexual partners and pregnant women.
Anyone who is sexually active should talk with a healthcare provider about whether they need testing for chlamydia or other STIs. Dont be afraid to speak openly about your sex life, as you can get the best care by having an honest discussion with your healthcare provider.
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How Can I Reduce My Risk For Chlamydia
As with other sexually transmitted infections , there are things you can do to reduce or eliminate the risk of chlamydia. These include the following:
- Abstinence is a sure way to avoid infection.
- Mutual monogamy is another way to avoid infection.
- Using latex condoms consistently and correctly for vaginal and anal sex can reduce risk of transmission.
- Water-based spermicides are not recommended for the prevention of chlamydia. Recent studies have shown that nonoxynol-9 , which is found in most water-based spermicides, is not effective in preventing chlamydia.
Since chlamydia can be transmitted even if the penis or tongue does not completely enter the vagina, mouth or rectum, using latex condoms at the beginning of sexual contact until there is no longer skin contact is the best form of prevention.
Several barrier methods can be used to reduce the risk of transmission of chlamydia during oral sex. A non-lubricated condom can be used for mouth-to-penis contact. Household plastic wrap, a dental dam, or a latex condom cut-up and opened flat can reduce the risk of transmission during mouth-to-vulva/vagina or oral-anal contact.
It is important that you talk to your partner as soon as possible so she or he can get treatment. Telling a partner can be hard, but keep in mind that most people with chlamydia do not know they have it. Also, it is possible to pass chlamydia back and forth, so if you get treated and your partner does not, you may become infected again.
Tips For Safe Kissing
Follow these tips to practice safe kissing and prevent transmission of other conditions:
- Avoid kissing someone if either of you has open sores.
- Avoid kissing someone if either of you has cuts in or around the mouth.
- Avoid kissing someone when youre sick or if theyre sick.
- Dont bite during kissing.
- Find other parts of the body to kiss instead of the lips, such as the cheek or hand.
Kissing doesnt have to be off-limits to prevent the transmission of disease. If you temporarily avoid kissing or change the way you kiss during a bout of illness, you could lower your chances for getting the condition.
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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.
How Can You Treat Chlamydia
Following a positive test, the most common and effective treatment for Chlamydia is a course of antibiotics, usually over the period of one week. You should abstain for sexual activity for one week following a successful course of antibiotics and ensure that regular sexual partners, as well as previous partners, are informed and tested.
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Do I Need To Get Tested For Chlamydia
- If you are 24 or younger and have sex, you need to get tested for chlamydia. Chlamydia is most common in women between 15 and 24 years old. 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:
- 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.
Does Chlamydia Go Away On Its Own
It is highly unlikely that Chlamydia will go away on its own without treatment, which is why it is so important to be tested regularly and be treated swiftly if positive. Whilst it has been known for some infected with Chlamydia to recover without treatment, this is uncommon and very risky as untreated Chlamydia may lead to more severe health problems.
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Testing Before The Incubation Period
Every STD test has an advised date from which a test becomes accurate. This is because the bacteria needs enough time to multiply within your body in order for it to reach a detectable level when taking a chlamydia test. For chlamydia this is often 14 days. If you test before that 14 days is over, you may test negative, but you could still pass the bacteria on following your test.
How Long Can You Have Chlamydia Without Knowing
If youve had intercourse with an infected man or woman, chlamydia symptoms may appear between 1 3 weeks after contact.
However, you may still be asymptomatic after a chlamydia infection. This is because chlamydia can be silent or dormant for months and years without showing symptoms.
In men, about 50 70 percent will show symptoms of chlamydia while only 30 50 percent of women will be symptomatic. Absent symptoms of chlamydia do not mean absent infection. You should take chlamydia test to confirm if you have the infection or not.
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Am I At Risk For Chlamydia
Anyone who has sex can get chlamydia through unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex. However, sexually active young people are at a higher risk of getting chlamydia. This is due to behaviors and biological factors common among young people. Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men are also at risk since chlamydia can spread through oral and anal sex.
Have an honest and open talk with your health care provider. Ask whether you should be tested for chlamydia or other STDs. If you are a sexually active woman younger than 25 years, you should get a test for chlamydia every year. If you are an older woman with risk factors such as new or multiple sex partners, or a sex partner who has an STD, you should get a test for chlamydia every year. Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men as well as pregnant women should also get tested for chlamydia.
Symptoms And Viral Load
Sexually transmitted infections arent transmitted during every sexual encounter you have, even if your partner is infected. For example, if your partner has HIV but is receiving treatment, the amount of the infection in their bodily fluids, called the viral load, could be extremely low. Therefore, the odds of them passing it to you are low. You could contract an STI from a sexual partner during your first time having sex with that person, or it may not be transmitted to you until the hundredth time.
Many people who have STIs do not show any symptoms. Therefore, your sexual partner may not know he or she has one. The only way to be sure is to get tested regularly. Your health care provider can perform STI testing to determine whether you have contracted any of the most common infections, which include chlamydia, trichomoniasis, gonorrhea, HPV, HIV, syphilis, and herpes. Companies like Nurx also offer convenient at-home STI testing for certain infections.
Safe sexual practices can reduce your risk of contracting an STI. Using condoms is smart, especially if you have multiple partners.
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Do Condoms Prevent Stds 100 Percent
When used correctly and consistently, condoms are highly effective at preventing STIs that are transmitted through bodily fluids, including chlamydia and gonorrhea. They also effectively prevent the spread of HIV. They provide less protection against infections spread through skin-to-skin contact, such as herpes, HPV, and syphilis.
So, can you catch an STD with a condom? Yes. Abstinence is the only method that is 100 percent effective at preventing all STIs. But among people who use condoms for protection, the chances are greatly reduced.
Here are some tips for getting the most protection from using condoms:
- Read the package label of the condom before using it.
- Choose condoms with a label that says they prevent disease.
- Use a new condom each time you have sex.
- Store condoms in a cool, dry place, as heat may weaken them and reduce their effectiveness.
- When using lubricant with condoms, always choose a water-based one oil-based lubricants like baby oil, petroleum jelly, and cold cream can weaken the condom.
Can Someone Be Born With Chlamydia
Like some other sexually transmitted diseases, it is possible to pass chlamydia to a newborn during birth, even if the mother is unaware of her condition. In most cases, the disease will present itself as conjunctivitis or pneumonia.
To treat the infection, doctors may prescribe antibiotics and eye drops for conjunctivitis to ease discomfort. Symptoms usually diminish a few days after treatment begins.
Getting A Chlamydia Test
Because you can have and transmit the infection without symptoms, a test is necessary to detect the presence of the bacteria and begin treatment. Even if you had sex once, you could still contract chlamydia.
Men should have a chlamydia screening if they experience any symptoms that could be an infection. They should also see a doctor if their partner tests positive for chlamydia regardless of their sexual orientation.
For women, testing should occur at least once a year if youre under 25 and sexually active. Younger people are more likely to contract an STD because they tend to have more unprotected sex or multiple partners. Women should also undergo an annual screening if theyre over 25 and have a new partner.
Another reason for women to have a chlamydia test is pregnancy. A mother can pass chlamydia to their baby during birth, resulting in medical issues for the newborn.
How To Help Partners Get Treatment
If you are not sure whether your sexual partner will seek treatment, ask your doctor for extra chlamydia medication . You can give it to them so they can be treated as soon as possible.
This is known as patient delivered partner therapy for chlamydia. Talk to your doctor to see if PDPT is right for you and your sexual partner.
How Long Can You Have Chlamydia Before It Causes Damage
Symptoms usually appear within one to three weeks after being infected and may be very mild. If not treated, chlamydia can lead to damage to the reproductive system. In women, chlamydial infection can spread to the uterus or fallopian tubes and cause pelvic inflammatory disease , according to the CDC.
Antibiotics Are A Highly Effective Cure For Chlamydia Infection
Antibiotics prescribed for chlamydia include:
A single oral dose of Zithromax is the most common treatment. Other drugs may be given in varying doses for a period of up to a week. Most cases of chlamydia clear up within a week after you start on antibiotics.
If you think you have been exposed to chlamydia, Stoner says, see your healthcare provider to receive antibiotic medication to prevent the onset of infection.
The partners of individuals diagnosed with chlamydia will need treatment, too, and in some states they can get it without a doctor visit through a practice called expedited partner therapy, in which the first person treated delivers the treatment to their partner or partners.
What Can Happen If Chlamydia Is Not Treated
Untreated chlamydia can cause serious health problems in women, including:
- , 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.
- Increased risk of getting HIV from sexual activity
What Increases Your Risk
Risk factors for getting chlamydia include:
- Having unprotected sex .
- Having more than one sex partner.
- Having a high-risk partner or partners. This includes people who have more than one sex partner or sex partners who have chlamydia.
- Starting sexual activity before age 18.
Any child with chlamydia needs to be seen by a doctor to determine the cause and to assess for possible sexual abuse. For more information, see the topic Child Abuse and Neglect.
What Can I Do
Use a condom during vaginal intercourse and anal intercourse.
Use a condom or oral dam during oral sex.
There is no vaccine to protect against chlamydia.
The only way to know for sure whether or not you have chlamydia is to get tested. A doctor or nurse can do the test. The test involves a swab of the genitals, rectum or throat or a urine sample. Tell the doctor or nurse about all the different kinds of sex you are having so they can test all the right parts of your body.
It is a good idea to get tested for other sexually transmitted infections , including HIV, when you get tested for chlamydia. Other STIs can be passed on in the same way as chlamydia. Talk to your healthcare provider about how often you should test for chlamydia and other STIs.
If you are diagnosed with chlamydia, a public health staff person will talk to you about informing your sex partners that they might have been exposed to chlamydia and encouraging them to get tested. Your identity will not be revealed.
Chlamydia can be cured with a single dose or a short course of antibiotics. If you are given a single dose to treat the infection, you should wait for seven days after taking it before having sex again. If you are given pills to take for seven days, you should wait until you have taken all the pills before having sex again. If you have a regular partner or partners, they should also be treated before you have sex with them.
Chlamydia Can Harm Your Pregnancy Or Reproductive Health
Can chlamydia harm your unborn baby or your future reproductive health? Many people will say no, but thats not true. The infection can cause complications for both pregnancy and fertility.
Chlamydia can cause many complications for pregnant women and their babies. When the infection is left untreated, it can cause preterm delivery. Babies who are born prematurely can have problems with their lungs, hearts, or brains. The infection can spread to the baby, resulting in pneumonia, eye infections, and other complications. Due to these risks, pregnant women are routinely screened for chlamydia.
Chlamydia can cause many complications for pregnant women and their babies. When the infection is left untreated, it can cause preterm delivery.
Chlamydia can also cause complications for women who want to get pregnant. If untreated chlamydia spreads to other parts of the reproductive system, like the uterus, those tissues can be damaged. This can cause infertility. Damage to the uterine tubes could also result in an ectopic pregnancy. This means a fertilized egg implants somewhere other than the uterus, usually inside the uterine tube. These pregnancies arent sustainable and may put the mothers life at risk.
There are many myths that are circulating about this common sexually transmitted infection. If youre concerned about chlamydia, see your doctor to get tested.