What is chlamydia?
Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacteria chlamydia trachomatis. You can get it on your penis, vagina, anus, or in your throat. In rare cases, chlamydia can also infect the eyes.
In many cases, there are no symptoms. However, if you do experience symptoms, they will appear one to three weeks after exposure.
Symptoms of chlamydia
Chlamydia in the penis:
- Painful urination
- Cloudy discharge
- Testicular pain
Chlamydia in the throat:
Chlamydia in the anus:
Chlamydia in the eyes (trachoma):
In people with vaginas, untreated chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Symptoms of PID include:
- Lower abdominal pain
- Vaginal discharge
- Bad vaginal odor
- Painful sex
- Bleeding during sex
- Menstrual spotting
- Burning during urination
Some people with untreated, long-term chlamydia also develop arthritis—painful inflammation of the joints.
Causes of chlamydia
The only cause of chlamydia is an infection of the bacteria chlamydia trachomatis. It is usually spread through unprotected sexual contact with an infected person's mouth, vagina, penis, or anus. You can get it from someone with a penis even if they don't ejaculate, because it can spread through genital contact. You can also get it from contact with someone's semen or sexual fluids.
You can prevent chlamydia transmission by using barriers during sex. These include condoms, dental dams, and internal condoms.
Diagnosis for chlamydia
The only way for a doctor to diagnose you with chlamydia is for you to get tested. There are two types of tests to diagnose chlamydia:
- Urine test - You urinate into a cup and doctors test the urine for traces of bacteria.
- Swab test - Doctors take a swab of the affected area and test that for bacteria.
You should get tested immediately if you have symptoms of chlamydia or you find out a recent sexual partner has chlamydia.
Even if you don't have symptoms of chlamydia, regular testing for sexually transmitted infections is a good idea. Many people with chlamydia have no symptoms, and other STDs may show no symptoms.
If you're under age 25 and sexually active, you should get tested for chlamydia at least once a year. You should also get tested if you have a new sexual partner.
People of any age should get tested regularly if:
- They have multiple sexual partners
- They regularly have anonymous sex
- They regularly have unprotected sex
Treatments for chlamydia
Part of the treatment for chlamydia includes informing your recent sexual partners so they can get tested and treated as well. Some clinics offer to do this anonymously to protect your identity while helping to stop the spread of chlamydia in the community.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) - CDC Fact Sheet."
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "STD Risk and Oral Sex - CDC Fact Sheet."
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Which STD Tests Should I Get?"
Health Link BC: "Chlamydia."
Mayo Clinic: "Trachoma."
National Health Service: "Diagnosis Chlamydia."
National Health Service: "Symptoms Chlamydia."
National Health Service: "Treatment Chlamydia."
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