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.
When To Contact A Doctor
If you have any of the symptoms described, you should go see a doctor. In general, if you are sexually active and have any usual discharge, burning sensations, or pain while having sex you may have an STD and should get tested.
Additionally, if you are a woman, you should contact a doctor immediately if you have any of the following symptoms as they can be a sign of a serious complication of chlamydia called pelvic inflammatory disease:
- Fainting or signs of shock
- Serious lower abdominal pain
- Temperature that is higher than 101 F
Should any of these symptoms arise or if you suspect you may have an STD, it is very important to get tested.
Even if you have no symptoms as do the vast majority of those with chlamydia but are sexually active, you should be getting tested regularly, so you do not unknowingly spread the disease.
You can make an appointment with your primary care physician or order STD testing online here.
How Do I Know If I Have Chlamydia
If you suspect you have chlamydia, your doctor may want to test cervical or penile discharge or urine using one of several available methods.
In most cases of chlamydia, the cure rate is 95%. However, because many women don’t know they have the disease until it has caused serious complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease, sexually active women under age 25 and others at higher risk should be tested for chlamydia once a year during their annual pelvic exam even if they dont have symptoms.
Pregnant women should also be tested as part of their routine lab work.
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How Do People Get Chlamydia
Chlamydia is transmitted through sexual contact with the penis, vagina, mouth, or anus of an infected partner. Ejaculation does not have to occur for chlamydia to be transmitted or acquired. Chlamydia can also be spread perinatally from an untreated mother to her baby during childbirth, resulting in ophthalmia neonatorum or pneumonia in some exposed infants. In published prospective studies, chlamydial conjunctivitis has been identified in 18-44% and chlamydial pneumonia in 3-16% of infants born to women with untreated chlamydial cervical infection at the time of delivery.9-12 While rectal or genital chlamydial infection has been shown to persist one year or longer in infants infected at birth,13 the possibility of sexual abuse should be considered in prepubertal children beyond the neonatal period with vaginal, urethral, or rectal chlamydial infection.
People who have had chlamydia and have been treated may get infected again if they have sexual contact with a person infected with chlamydia.14
How Do I Know If I Have Gonorrhea
Some men with gonorrhea may have no symptoms at all. However, men who do have symptoms, may have:
- A burning sensation when urinating
- A white, yellow, or green discharge from the penis
- Painful or swollen testicles .
Most women with gonorrhea do not have any symptoms. Even when a woman has symptoms, they are often mild and can be mistaken for a bladder or vaginal infection. Women with gonorrhea are at risk of developing serious complications from the infection, even if they dont have any symptoms.Symptoms in women can include:
- Painful or burning sensation when urinating
- Increased vaginal discharge
- Vaginal bleeding between periods.
Rectal infections may either cause no symptoms or cause symptoms in both men and women that may include:
- Painful bowel movements.
You should be examined by your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms or if your partner has an STD or symptoms of an STD, such as an unusual sore, a smelly discharge, burning when urinating, or bleeding between periods.
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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
Effects Of The Disease
Chlamydia can cause infertility if it is not treated. It damages sperm and scars the reproductive tract. It also damages your sperm in ways that can make birth defects prevalent.
Chlamydia can also affect you in non-sexual ways. You can get recurring pink eye, reactive arthritis and rheumatological conditions.
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How Did I Get Chlamydia If I Didnt Cheat
You can get chlamydia if your partner had vaginal, oral or anal sex with someone who was infected and then had sex with you. People in relationships may have different ideas about what kinds of sexual contact counts as cheating, and this miscommunication can lead to infections. Communicate honestly with your partner about what sex youre having and what sex theyre having. Practice safer sex to reduce your risk of catching chlamydia, and get regularly screened to be sure.
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.
How Long Does It Take To Show Up On A Test
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:
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What Should I Do If Symptoms Of Chlamydia Appear
If you experience symptoms of Chlamydia after sexual activity, you should see your doctor or visit a sexual health clinic as soon as you can to get tested. For guys who have sex guys, you should get tested for HIV and STIs once every three months.
Not sure where to get tested? There are sexual health clinics across Sydney and regional NSW that all offer confidential STI testing and treatment. HIV and STI tests at clinics across the state are free, though if you get tested with a general practitioner this may vary depending on your access to Medicare, and whether or not your doctor offers a bulk billing service. You can find your closest sexual health testing site using our where to get tested tool.
Reducing The Risk Of Chlamydia Infection
Chlamydia is a bacterial infection which is spread in genital fluids . Its important to bear this in mind, and to remember that chlamydia can be transmitted via various forms of sexual activity.
As a man you can be vulnerable to chlamydia if you are engaging in the following sexual acts:
- Vaginal sex
- Non-penetrative sexual contact
- Sharing sex toys
If infected semen or vaginal fluid comes into contact with your genitals, rectum or eyes you are at risk of contracting chlamydia and potentially developing symptoms described above.
To stay protected, talk to your sexual partner about their STI status if you arent certain that they are free from infection refrain from sex or use condoms or dental dams until either of you are tested.
Condoms should be used for anal sex, vaginal sex and male oral sex . Dental dams should be used for female oral sex.
Sex toys should not be shared – they should be washed in between use and protected with a condom if possible.
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How You Prevent It
Remember to always practice safer sex and use condoms. This will lower the risk of getting chlamydia or other STIs.
If you find out that you have chlamydia, your partner need to be told that they could have an infection even if there arent any symptoms. If you have concerns about telling your partner, contact a public health nurse.
The public health nurse can suggest ways to handle the situation or they will contact your partner for you. Of course, your name will be kept confidential.
You can get chlamydia from having vaginal, oral or anal sex without a condom, or sharing sex toys with an infected person.
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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.
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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.
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:
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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.
Chlamydia And Gonorrhea Often Go Together
People with one of these STDs frequently have the other as well. They often go together,” says Dombrowski, They have many of the same risk factors and they are spread the same way.
In fact, she says, chlamydia was actually first discovered when people who had gonorrhea were treated but still had symptoms.
If you test positive for chlamydia, your healthcare provider is likely to also recommend that you be treated for gonorrhea. This is because the cost of treating gonorrhea is less than the cost of testing for the infection.
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What Complications Can Result From Chlamydial Infection
The initial damage that chlamydia causes often goes unnoticed. However, chlamydial infections can lead to serious health problems with both short- and long-term consequences.
In women, untreated chlamydia can spread into the uterus or fallopian tubes and cause pelvic inflammatory disease . Symptomatic PID occurs in about 10 to 15 percent of women with untreated chlamydia.30,31 However, chlamydia can also cause subclinical inflammation of the upper genital tract . Both acute and subclinical PID can cause permanent damage to the fallopian tubes, uterus, and surrounding tissues. The damage can lead to chronic pelvic pain, tubal factor infertility, and potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy.32,33
Some patients with chlamydial PID develop perihepatitis, or Fitz-Hugh-Curtis Syndrome, an inflammation of the liver capsule and surrounding peritoneum, which is associated with right upper quadrant pain.
In pregnant women, untreated chlamydia has been associated with pre-term delivery,34 as well as ophthalmia neonatorum and pneumonia in the newborn.
Reactive arthritis can occur in men and women following symptomatic or asymptomatic chlamydial infection, sometimes as part of a triad of symptoms formerly referred to as Reiters Syndrome.35
Getting Tested And Treated For Chlamydia
If you have had unprotected sex and you think you may have been exposed to chlamydia or another STI you should get tested. If you’re diagnosed you should let your partner know and get treated before you have sex again.
You can do this for free at your GP surgery, a sexual health clinic or a GUM clinic. You can also order home test kits from LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor.You should get tested if you are experiencing the kinds of symptoms described above, or if your sexual partner has been diagnosed with chlamydia. If you are under 25 and sexually active its recommended that you get tested at least once a year, and every time you change sexual partners whether or not you have symptoms.
Click here to visit our sexual health tests for men page and order test kits for chlamydia and other STIs.
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Symptoms Of Male Chlamydia:
In around 70 percent of the cases, there will be no signs of this condition seen initially in men. The symptoms will only appear after 1 to 3 weeks of exposure. When it appears, one must watch out for the following symptoms:
- Abnormal discharge from the penis usually yellowish, beige, milky, or clear
- Pain while urinating
- Itching or burning around the head of the penis
- Pain or swelling in the testicles
- Pain in the rectum discharge or bleeding can also be seen
- Inflammation in the eyes
- Sore throat
What Is The Treatment
Chlamydia is treated with antibiotics. It is important to follow the treatment instructions carefully. If you were given pills, finish all of them. Sexual partners from the last 2 months need to be tested and treated. If you have not had a sexual partner in the last 2 months, then your last sexual partner will need to be tested and treated. It takes time for the infection to clear from the body, so it is important that you do not have any oral, vaginal or anal sex for 7 days after you and your partner start the antibiotic treatment.
If you or your partner do not finish the treatment, miss pills or have unprotected sex before you have finished all of the medication, there is a chance that the infection will stay in your body may pass back to you or your partner and cause health problems later. If this happens, talk with your health care provider who will help you to decide if you or your partners need more treatment.
Because re-infection is common, a follow-up test is recommended 6 months after treatment. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, have a follow-up test 3 to 4 weeks after completing treatment.
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Chlamydia Symptoms In Men
If there are signs of Chlamydia in men, symptoms can include:
- Pain or burning sensations when urinating
- Watery, cloudy or white discharge from penis
- Pain in the testicles
Signs of Chlamydia in women can consist of:
- Unusual discharge from the vagina
- Pain when urinating
Chlamydia can also affect your rectum or throat as a result of unprotected anal or oral sex. You may experience discomfort or discharge from your rectum, or a sore throat. If you come into contact with infected semen or vaginal fluid in your eyes, this can also result in a Chlamydia infection. If this happens, you might experience from eye redness or conjunctivitis.