What Is Chlamydia?

Find out more about this common sexually transmitted infection…

Chlamydia. Have you heard of it? It’s one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (or STIs, as they’re also known) in the UK. Most people with chlamydia don’t even know they have it which is why it’s so important to get tested and keep yourself safe from passing it on or catching it. The good news? It’s really simple to get tested – and even easier to treat.

Symptoms Of Chlamydia

If you do have symptoms, look out for:

  • Unusual discharge from the penis, vagina or bottom
  • Pain when peeing

If you’re a guy:

  • Pain and swelling in the testicles

And if you’re a girl:

  • Pain after sex, bleeding after sex or bleeding in between periods

Is Chlamydia Serious?

Most cases of chlamydia don’t experience symptoms, making it difficult to spot. It can be serious if it isn’t treated early on – that’s why it’s important to get yourself tested regularly, especially if you have had unprotected sex. If left untreated, chlamydia can spread to other parts of your body and cause long-term problems such as inflammation of the testicles, pelvic inflammatory disease and even infertility. It’s important not to ignore chlamydia. It won’t go away by itself and it can cause serious health issues for you in the long term.

How Do You Prevent Chlamydia?

Chlamydia is passed on through unprotected vaginal, anal and oral sex with an infected person. It can also be picked up or passed on through sharing sex toys with someone who has the infection. To keep yourself safe, you should:

  • Use a condom every time you have vaginal, anal or oral sex
  • Not share sex toys or use them with a new condom each time the other person uses it
  • Wash hands after foreplay

Testing For Chlamydia

You can go to your local sexual health clinic or doctor to be tested for chlamydia. It’s a really simple swab or urine test – nothing painful or too intrusive – so it’s worth doing. If you’re under 25, your local pharmacy may also offer this service. You can check online for your nearest sexual health service here.

Treating Chlamydia

Treatment is really easy and effective. You’ll be given a course of antibiotics to take to get rid of the infection. You should not have sex until you (and your partner if you have one) have finished taking the treatment and you may be asked to avoid sex for a week afterwards, depending on your course.

It’s very important to complete the course of antibiotics as chlamydia can come back again. Most doctors or sexual health clinics will invite you back after treatment to be tested again to make sure you’re clear of the infection.

Telling Your Partner/Ex Partners

It’s important to let your partner or past partners know that they may be at risk of having chlamydia. This sounds embarrassing and scary but the sexual health clinic can contact your partner/s to let them know and invite them in for a test if you’d prefer. This is completely anonymous – your name won’t be attached to the letter.

Common Myths About Chlamydia

We sort the chlamydia facts from the fiction!

  • Will Chlamydia Go Away On Its Own?

This is highly unlikely. Your symptoms (if you have any) might fade away but this doesn’t mean the infection has gone. Your body’s immune system cannot defeat chlamydia which is why it’s important you get the antibiotics you need. Make an appointment with your doctor right away if you think you have chlamydia to get it treated quickly.

  • Can You Get Chlamydia From A Toilet Seat?

False. Chlamydia can’t survive outside the human body so it cannot live on surfaces like a toilet seat. You also can’t get it from hugging, kissing or sharing towels and clothes. You can only get it through unprotected vaginal, anal and oral sex with an infected person, or sharing sex toys with someone who has chlamydia.

  • You Can Only Get Chlamydia Once

No, this isn’t the case. You can be reinfected with the infection if you don’t use condoms when having sex. Regular testing and using condoms can help to keep you safe. To read more about sexual health, click here.


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