When To See A Healthcare Provider
It’s important to talk to your healthcare provider if you have any signs or symptoms of chlamydia, any other symptoms that concern you, or if you know or think you’ve been exposed to the infection.
According to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force , women 25 and under and those who are sexually active should be screened for chlamydia every year, as should older women who have an increased risk of infection.
Screening for other sexually transmitted infections is important as well, as the risk factors for chlamydia also increase the likelihood of contracting these other infections. If you are treated for chlamydia, be sure to tell your healthcare provider if any symptoms persist.
Complications Of Chlamydia In Males
When left untreated chlamydia can lead to other conditions and symptoms. In men, chlamydia infection can lead to the inflammation of the testicles and the tubes that carry sperm from the testicles . If you develop this complication you may experience:
- Swelling or a lump in the testicle
- Discharge from the penis
- Difficulty urinating or needing to urinate more often
- Later on, problems with fertility
Untreated chlamydia can also cause sexually acquired reactive arthritis , which can lead to:
- Pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints
- Pain and redness in the eyes
- Pain when urinating
Inflammation of the testicles and epididymis can usually be treated with antibiotics. SARA cannot be cured, it normally clears up on its own within a few months, but it is prone to recurrences. SARA occurs 10 times more frequently in men than women.
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How Is Chlamydia Infection Diagnosed
Doctors have several tests they can use to screen for chlamydia. Note that screening for chlamydia in the throat isnt a part of usual STI testing.
If youve had a sore throat that doesnt seem to go away or have a partner that youve had oral sex with who tested positive for chlamydia, you might want to ask your doctor about pharyngeal chlamydia screening.
Doctors can use urine samples to diagnose chlamydia, but that doesnt help them diagnose chlamydia in the throat.
As a result, a doctor may swab your throat to test for chlamydia there. They send this swab to a laboratory, which tests the specimen for the presence of DNA from the bacteria that cause chlamydia.
This test is a little tricky because the Food and Drug Administration hasnt approved a swab test for pharyngeal chlamydia. Your throat contains a lot of bacteria, and this can make it hard to pinpoint chlamydia bacteria.
When a doctor uses a swab to test for chlamydia in the throat, its possible theyre doing so in an off-label fashion. This means the FDA hasnt specifically given the OK to use the test for pharyngeal chlamydia, but some doctors think swabs can help in detection.
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Treatment Of Chlamydia Is There A Cure For Chlamydia
Chlamydia can be cured easily and effectively with simple antibiotics once it has been diagnosed. The treatment can consist of a single dose or last up to 2 weeks depending on the type of chlamydia. The infected person should not have penetrative sex until receiving a negative Chlamydia test at an after-treatment check-up. Both partners must be treated for chlamydia and undergo re-testing after 34 months.
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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Symptoms Of Oral Chlamydia
Most of the time, people with oral chlamydia do not have any symptoms. The only major one they may have is a sore throat, which can be confused with any number of other conditions from allergies and colds to strep throat and acid reflux.
When symptoms of oral chlamydia do develop, they often include:
- Sore throat
- Mild fever
Chlamydia can take anywhere from one to three weeks after sexual contact to develop, which is another reason why many don’t make the connection between their symptoms and this infection.
Im Pregnant How Does Chlamydia Affect My Baby
If you are pregnant and have chlamydia, you can pass the infection to your baby during delivery. This could cause an eye infection or pneumonia in your newborn. Having chlamydia may also make it more likely to deliver your baby too early.
If you are pregnant, you should get tested for chlamydia at your first prenatal visit. Testing and treatment are the best ways to prevent health problems.
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How Long Can You Have Chlamydia Without Knowing
Chlamydia is sometimes called a silent infection because the majority of people who have chlamydia regardless of gender never notice symptoms. People who do notice symptoms often dont recognize the signs that they have chlamydia until a few weeks after theyve been infected. Because chlamydia cases are often asymptomatic, its easy to spread chlamydia to someone else without realizing it. And its easy to miss out on receiving the treatment needed to prevent the serious complications that can result from chlamydia.
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What Does Chlamydia Do To Your Body
Although chlamydia doesnt usually cause any symptoms, it can be serious if you dont get treatment early on.
The bacteria can spread to your fallopian tubes and uterus. If this happens, it might cause pelvic inflammatory disease which results in abdominal and pelvic pain. Even if PID does not cause abdominal and pelvic pain, it can still do permanent damage to your reproductive system. PID can lead to an inability to get pregnant, long-term pelvic pain, and ectopic pregnancy.
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How Often Should I Get Checked For Chlamydia
Sexual health check-ups are recommended for anyone who is sexually active. Frequency of testing also depends on your STI risk:
- An annual sexual health check-up is highly recommended if you are sexually active especially if you are under 25.
- Get checked more often during the year if you frequently change sexual partners.
- Remember, you are at greater risk if you have sex without a condom with 1 or multiple sexual partners.
How Is Chlamydia Treated
Chlamydia can be cleared up with antibiotics in about a week or two. But dont stop taking your medication just because your symptoms improve. Ask your provider about what follow-up is needed to be sure your infection is gone after youve finished taking your medicine.
Part of your treatment should also include avoiding sexual activities that could cause you to get re-infected and ensuring that any sexual partners who may be infected also get treatment. You should:
- Abstain from sex until your infection has cleared up. Starting treatment doesnt mean that youre in the clear. Take all your medication as your provider directs, and avoid all sexual contact in the meantime.
- Contact all sexual partners. Tell any sexual partners from the last 3 months that youre infected so that they can get tested, too.
- Get tested for other STIs . Its common to have multiple STIs, and its important to receive treatment thats tailored to each infection.
Antibiotics can get rid of your infection, but they cant reverse any harm the bacteria may have caused to your body before treatment. This is why its so important to get screened regularly for chlamydia, to see your provider at the first sign of symptoms, and get treatment immediately if youre infected.
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What Tests Diagnose Stds In Men
Many STDs are diagnosed based upon the clinical history and characteristic physical findings. Herpes and syphilis are two conditions that can produce identifiable signs and symptoms. Often the diagnosis of an infection depends upon identification of the organism. A number of different tests are available for STDs in men that are based either upon detection of the surface proteins of the organism or of the genetic material of the organism. These methods are more commonly used than the culture to identify sexually transmitted infections.
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.
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What Are The Risks Of Chlamydia Or Gonorrhea During Pregnancy
- Miscarriage: some studies have found a link between chlamydia infection and miscarriage, which is a spontaneous loss of pregnancy before the baby is viable outside of the womb. Researchers believe it could be due to inflammation of the placenta caused by bacteria, as well as the rupture of membranes.
- Stillbirth: bacterial infections, including chlamydia and gonorrhea, might cause stillbirth , even though more research is needed to confirm this risk.
- Preterm delivery: which is when a baby is born before the 37th week of pregnancy. This can be problematic as the earlier a baby is delivered the higher the risk of health complications.
Is There A Cure For Chlamydia
Yes. Chlamydia is easy to treat and cure, but remember that just because youve had it once doesnt mean you cant get infected again. Its important that you get treated early so that more serious health problems dont occur.
Your health care provider will either give you a single dose of medicine to take in the office before you leave or a prescription to fill that you will need to take 2 times a day, for 7 days. Your health care provider will decide which medicine is right for you. Remember to take ALL of the medicine as prescribed, even if the symptoms go away.
Its important for your sexual contact to be treated as well. This can help prevent you from re-infecting one another.
You should be re-tested for chlamydia in 3 months.
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Can I Mistake The Visible Signs For Another Infection
Yes, with chlamydia, its very easy to find these symptoms misleading. The problem is that the bacteria will take time to affect the system, and until 1 to 3 weeks after youve been exposed, you might start to experience the symptoms. So, there is a high chance that the symptoms you are experiencing are caused by a different infection.
Chlamydia Symptoms And Treatment
Chlamydia usually has no symptoms meaning most people with the infection do not know they have it. It is passed on through vaginal, anal and oral sex without a condom or sharing unwashed sex toys with someone who has the infection.
If left untreated for a long time it can lead to serious health problems, if discovered early it is easily treated with a short course of antibiotics.
- The basics
Treatment And Medication Options For Chlamydia
A course of antibiotics is the treatment for chlamydia. Your doctor will decide which drug to prescribe, and at what dose, according to your individual medical needs and other aspects of your situation.
Its important to abstain from having sex until seven days after the start of your antibiotic treatment, to prevent the transmission of chlamydia to a sexual partner. If you have a partner who is being treated for chlamydia, the same recommendation applies to them.
If you have symptoms that persist for more than a few days after you start your treatment, see your doctor again to be reevaluated.
Because the symptoms of chlamydia are similar to those of gonorrhea, you should be treated for both infections if you test positive for chlamydia. Thats because its often faster and cheaper to just treat both infections than to order another test for gonorrhea after a positive test result for chlamydia.
After completing your antibiotic treatment for chlamydia, youll need to get tested again after three to four months or earlier, if recommended to check for reinfection.
While antibiotics can cure chlamydia, they cant reverse any permanent damage caused by the infection.
What Is The Prognosis For A Female With Chlamydia
As discussed previously, chlamydia infection can progress to pelvic inflammatory disease if untreated, which can have serious consequences. Complications include permanent damage to the reproductive organs, including infertility and an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy. Chlamydia infection in pregnancy can also lead to low birth weight and premature delivery as well as pneumonia and eye damage in the newborn.
Having an untreated chlamydia infection can also increase a person’s risk for acquiring HIV infection. It can also increase the risk that a person with HIV infection will transmit the infection to others during sexual intercourse.
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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.
How Common Is Chlamydia
Chlamydia is the most common STI caused by bacteria. Nearly 2 million cases of chlamydia were reported to the CDC in 2019. The number of infections is likely even higher. When compared to previous years, 2019 infection rates increased among people of all genders, all races and ethnicities, and in every region of the U.S. Most cases of chlamydia are asymptomatic, which means there are no signs or symptoms of an infection. Many of these cases likely go unreported.
Certain demographic characteristics may make you more likely to get diagnosed with chlamydia. Youre more likely to get diagnosed if youre:
- A teen or young adult aged 15 to 24. More than half of all diagnosed chlamydia cases in the U.S. occur in this age group.
- A cisgender woman aged 15 to 24. Young women in this age group are targeted for chlamydia screenings, and the rate of infection among those who are tested is high.
- A man who has sex with men . Chlamydia infections disproportionately affect men who have sex with men.
- Black and non-Hispanic. Chlamydia infections disproportionately affect non-Hispanic Black populations.
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What About Partners
People treated for chlamydia should tell their recent sex partners so the partner can see a healthcare provider. Recent partners include anyone the patient had anal, vaginal, or oral sex with in the 60 days before symptom onset or diagnosis. This will help protect the partner from health problems and prevent re-infection.
Patients treated with single-dose antibiotics should not have sex for seven days. Patients treated with a seven-day course of antibiotics should not have sex until they complete treatment, and their symptoms go away.
For tips on talking to partners about sex and STD testing, visit www.gytnow.org/talking-to-your-partner/
In some states, healthcare providers may give people with chlamydia extra medicine or prescriptions to give to their sex partner. This is called expedited partner therapy, or EPT. Clinical trials comparing EPT to asking the patient to refer their partners in for treatment find that EPT leads to fewer re-infections in the index patient and more partner treatment.52 EPT is another strategy providers use to manage the partners of people with chlamydial infection. Partners should still seek medical care, regardless of whether they receive EPT. For more information about EPT, including the legal status in a specific area, see Legal Status of Expedited Partner Therapy.
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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When Should You See A Doctor About Chlamydia Symptoms
There are a few reasons its a good idea to see your doctor for STI screening. Dr. Soper says if you have had a high-risk exposure, had unprotected sex with multiple partners, or had sex with someone who has had multiple partners, its best to rule out any infections. Seek out screening even before symptoms occur since so much of chlamydia infection is asymptomatic, he says.
If it turns out you do have chlamydia, know that it is easily treatable with either a single dose or a seven-day course of antibiotics, according to the CDC. Unlike, say, herpes, which is a virus and can live in your nerve roots and reappear, chlamydia doesnt do that, but it can be present for a long period of time, Dr. Soper says. If you treat it effectively, it doesnt come back unless you get exposed again. And dont forget to inform your partner if youve been infected. After all, wouldnt you want your partner to let you know? Its the responsible thing to do.
Its also a good idea to get retested in three months, Dr. Reno says, as you are at an increased risk of another STI. But not for the reasons you might think. Chlamydia doesnt actually make you more prone to getting another STI, Dr. Grifo says, but rather the person or people youre having sex with could have multiple exposures to STIs that then put you at risk, including someone you may think is monogamous.