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.
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.
How To Prevent Oral Chlamydia
Abstinence is the only way to completely prevent chlamydia infection. However, barrier devices such as a condom or dental dam can significantly reduce the risk of giving or receiving a sexually transmitted infection like chlamydia.
Another way to reduce the risk of infection is to maintain a monogamous sexual relationship with a partner who is not infected with chlamydia.
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When To Seek Medical Advice
If you have any symptoms of chlamydia, visit your GP, community contraceptive service or local genitourinary medicine clinic as soon as possible.
You should also get tested if you don’t have any symptoms but are concerned you could have a sexually transmitted infection .
If you’re a woman, sexually active and under 25 in England, it’s recommended that you have a chlamydia test once a year, and when you have sex with new or casual partners.
If you’re a man, sexually active and under 25 in England, it’s recommended that you have a chlamydia test once a year if you are not using condoms with new or casual partners.
Read more about chlamydia diagnosis.
What Does Chlamydia Infection Mean For My Health
Chlamydia can be treated and cured easily, but that doesnt mean that chlamydia infection isnt potentially dangerous. If chlamydia isnt diagnosed and left untreated, it can cause serious complications.
Untreated chlamydia infections in women may lead to:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease , a serious infection of the reproductive organs . Left untreated, PID can cause infertility , chronic pelvic pain, or ectopic pregnancy.
- A condition called mucopurulent cervicitis, characterized by a yellow discharge from the cervix
Untreated chlamydia in men may lead to:
- Scarring of the urethra
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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.
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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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.
Chlamydia Is Caused By Sexually Transmitted Bacteria
The bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis causes chlamydia infection, which usually occurs in the genital tract, so the cervix in women and the penis in men. In both women and men, the bacteria may also infect the rectum and the throat.
“Infections are spread during any kind of sexual activity: vaginal, anal, or oral intercourse,” says Jonathan Schaffir, MD, an ob-gyn at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus.
Chlamydia trachomatis can also cause conjunctivitis if the bacteria come into contact with the eyelids or the clear membrane covering the white of the eye.
Because chlamydia infections often cause no symptoms, individuals who have one may not seek medical attention or get treated for it. However, anyone who is infected with chlamydia can pass it to other people, who can, in turn, pass it to others.
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How Can I Treat Chlamydia Without Going To The Doctor
The recommended treatment for chlamydia is a single dose of azithromycin 1 g taken orally or doxycycline 100 mg taken orally twice a day for 7 days. Alternative chlamydia treatments include: erythromycin base 500 mg taken 4 times a day for 7 days. erythromycin ethylsucciante 800 mg taken 4 times a day for 7 days.
Treatment Of Chlamydia Trachomatis Infection And Its Complications
Doxycycline for seven days and a stat dose of azithromycin are the preferred drugs for use in the treatment of chlamydia trachomatis infection. However, the drugs are not safe in pregnancy hence the use of amoxicillin or erythromycin for seven days to treat the same disease in pregnancy. It is important to institute treatment in the early stages of the disease and also carry out retesting three weeks after completing of therapy to confirm cure from the disease more so in pregnancy to avoid occurrence of complications of the disease.
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.
What Happens If You Have Chlamydia For Too Long
Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection that is caused by the bacterium chlamydia trachomatis a weak gram-negative bacterium that commonly infects the cervix, rectum, throat and the male urethra. This is mainly because the organism infects the body by attaching to columnar cells that are only located in these sites. The condition most affects young women who frequently engage in unprotected sex. Apart from age, other risk factors include low socioeconomic status, multiple sexual partners and use of oral contraceptives.
The disease remains asymptomatic in most patients though it may present after several weeks with mucopurulent discharge, dysuria and pain during sexual intercourse among women and urethral discharge, painful urination and burning sensation in the testicles in men. After experiencing these symptoms, one should strive to get tested for the disease to allow for correct diagnosis and treatment as complications from the disease may be fatal and alter a persons way of life.
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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 Long Does It Take For A Male To Show Signs Of Chlamydia
Symptoms in the penis Symptoms of chlamydia may affect the penis within 13 weeks of the person coming into contact with the infection. In some cases, though, these symptoms can take months to appear. Symptoms of chlamydia in the penis may include: white, cloudy, or watery discharge from the tip of the penis.
Whats The Treatment For Chlamydia
Chlamydia is usually easy to get rid of. Your nurse or doctor will get you antibiotics to treat the infection. Sometimes you only have to take one dose of medication. Another chlamydia treatment lasts for 7 days. Your doctor will help you figure out which treatment is best for you.
If youre treated for chlamydia, its really important for your sexual partners to get treated also. Otherwise, you can keep passing the infection back and forth, or to other people. Sometimes your doctor will give you medicine for both you and your partner.
Where Can I Get More Information
Health care providers with STD consultation requests can contact the STD Clinical Consultation Network . This service is provided by the National Network of STD Clinical Prevention Training Centers and operates five days a week. STDCCN is convenient, simple, and free to health care providers and clinicians. More information is available at www.stdccn.orgexternal icon.
Division of STD Prevention Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709-38271-800-783-987
1. OFarrell N, Morison L, Moodley P, et al. Genital ulcers and concomitant complaints in men attending a sexually transmitted infections clinic: implications for sexually transmitted infections management. Sexually transmitted diseases 2008 35:545-9.
2. White JA. Manifestations and management of lymphogranuloma venereum. Current opinion in infectious diseases 2009 22:57-66.
3. Kreisel KM, Spicknall IH, Gargano JW, Lewis FM, Lewis RM, Markowitz LE, Roberts H, Satcher Johnson A, Song R, St. Cyr SB, Weston EJ, Torrone EA, Weinstock HS. Sexually transmitted infections among US women and men: Prevalence and incidence estimates, 2018. Sex Transm Dis 2021 in press.
4. CDC. Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance, 2019. Atlanta, GA: Department of Health and Human Services April 2021.
5. Torrone E, Papp J, Weinstock H. Prevalence of Chlamydia trachomatis Genital Infection Among Persons Aged 1439 Years United States, 20072012. MMWR 2014 63:834-8.
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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 Chlamydia
Most people who have chlamydia have no symptoms. If you do have symptoms, they may not appear until several weeks after you have sex with an infected partner. Even when chlamydia causes no symptoms, it can damage your reproductive system.
Women with symptoms may notice
- An abnormal vaginal discharge
- A burning sensation when urinating.
Symptoms in men can include
- A discharge from their penis
- A burning sensation when urinating
- Pain and swelling in one or both testicles .
Men and women can also get infected with chlamydia in their rectum. This happens either by having receptive anal sex, or by spread from another infected site . While these infections often cause no symptoms, they can cause
- Rectal pain
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. STD symptoms can include an unusual sore, a smelly discharge, burning when urinating, or bleeding between periods.
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What Do I Need To Know If I Get Treated For Chlamydia
If youre getting treated for chlamydia:
- Take all of your medicine the way your nurse or doctor tells you to, even if any symptoms you may be having go away sooner. The infection stays in your body until you finish the antibiotics.
- Your partner should also get treated for chlamydia so you dont re-infect each other or anyone else.
- Dont have sex for 7 days. If you only have 1 dose of medication, wait for 7 days after you take it before having sex. If youre taking medicine for 7 days, dont have sex until youve finished all of your pills.
- Get tested again in 3-4 months to make sure your infection is gone.
- Dont share your medicine with anyone. Your nurse or doctor may give you a separate dose of antibiotics for your partner. Make sure you both take all of the medicine you get.
- Even if you finish your treatment and the chlamydia is totally gone, its possible to get a new chlamydia infection again if youre exposed in the future. Chlamydia isnt a one-time-only deal. So use condoms and get tested regularly.
Who Should Be Tested For Chlamydia
Any sexually active person can be infected with chlamydia. Anyone with genital symptoms such as discharge, burning during urination, unusual sores, or rash should refrain from having sex until they are able to see a health care provider about their symptoms.
Also, anyone with an oral, anal, or vaginal sex partner who has been recently diagnosed with an STD should see a health care provider for evaluation.
Because chlamydia is usually asymptomatic, screening is necessary to identify most infections. Screening programs have been demonstrated to reduce rates of adverse sequelae in women.31,41 CDC recommends yearly chlamydia screening of all sexually active women younger than 25, as well as older women with risk factors such as new or multiple partners, or a sex partner who has a sexually transmitted infection.40 Rectal chlamydia testing can be considered for females based on sexual behaviors and exposure. 40 Pregnant women under 25 or older pregnant women at increased risk for chlamydia should be screened during their first prenatal visit and again during their third trimester.40 Women diagnosed with chlamydial infection should be retested approximately 3 months after treatment.40 Any woman who is sexually active should discuss her risk factors with a health care provider who can then determine if more frequent screening is necessary.
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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 .
The Health Risks Of Chlamydia
For up to 40 percent of infected women, untreated chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease . PID effects include abdominal pain, fever, internal abscesses and long-lasting pelvic pain effects also include scarring of the fallopian tubes, which can cause infertility and increase the chance of potentially life-threatening ectopic or tubal pregnancies.
Men can develop scarring of the urethra, making urination difficult and occasionally causing infertility. Although rare, both sexes are at risk of a type of arthritis known as Reiter’s Syndrome that causes inflammation and swelling of the joints.
If a pregnant woman has chlamydia, her baby may be born prematurely, have eye infections or develop pneumonia.
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