Sexually Transmitted Infections.
What is it?
Chlamydia is the most common bacterial sexually transmitted infection in the UK. It is found most frequently in young people under the age of 25 years. Other risks for getting chlamydia include having a new sexual partner, having more than one sexual partner in the last year and having unprotected sex (sex without a condom).
You can get chlamydia through unprotected oral, vaginal or anal sex, by sharing sex toys, or occasionally from genitals to fingers to eyes. It can also be passed by a pregnant woman to her baby. Infection usually occurs in the genitals but less commonly can occur in the rectum (back passage), throat and eyes.
What are the symptoms?
Most people do not have symptoms. If there are symptoms they might include:-
- Unusual vaginal discharge
- Lower abdominal pain
- Pain with passing urine (peeing)
- Unusual bleeding.
- Pain during sex
- White/Cloudy or watery discharge from the penis
- Pain when passing urine (peeing)
- Painful swelling of the testicles
Infection in the throat and rectum (back passage) usually does not cause symptoms, although anal discharge and pain can occur. Infection in the eye may cause painful red eyes (conjunctivitis)
What is it caused by?
Bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis.
How do you get tested for chlamydia?
Men will be asked to provide a urine sample and women will need a swab taken from the vagina which can be self-taken if no symptoms are present. If symptoms are present the swab will usually be taken by the nurse or doctor.
It is important that men do not pass urine for at least one hour before the test is taken.
In some situations (for example men who have sex with men) a swab may also be taken from the throat and/or rectum (back passage).
You should also be offered routine tests for other STI's including gonorrhoea, HIV and syphilis. In D&G, the test for chlamydia will also check for gonorrhoea - it's a single test that checks for both infections.
How is it treated?
Chlamydia is easily treated with a course of antibiotics from your GP or Sexual Health clinic. Your partner/partners also need to be tested and treated and you should not have any sexual contact with your partner until you have both been treated.
What can happen if it’s not treated?
In women, untreated chlamydia can spread to other reproductive organs (womb, tubes and ovaries) causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). In some serious cases this can lead to infertility and ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy that develops outside the womb).
In men it can cause epididymo-orchitis (infection of the testicles and tubes).
Less commonly, it can also cause sexually acquired reactive arthritis which is inflammation of the joints such as the ankles and knees. This is more common in men than women. Sometimes inflammation of the eyes (conjunctivitis) also occurs.
Chlamydia in pregnancy
It is important that chlamydia is treated in pregnancy to prevent the baby catching the infection during childbirth. Chlamydia may cause infection of the eyes (conjunctivitis) or lungs (pneumonia) in newborn babies. Treating the pregnant mother prevents this from happening.
It is possible to catch chlamydia again so it is important that your partner is tested and treated and that you practise safer sex with new partners.
You cannot tell by looking at someone if they have a sexually transmitted
infection, so if you are having sex (oral, anal or vaginal) the only way
to make sure you are not putting yourself at risk is to practise safer
- Always using condoms or femidoms (female condom inserted within the vagina) for vaginal sex.
- Always using condoms with water based lube for anal sex. Do not use condoms with spermicide if you are having anal sex.
- Always using flavoured condoms or dental dams (a latex shield that covers the mouth) when having oral sex.
- Trying non-penetrative sex like massage or mutual masturbation.
- Not sharing sex toys. If you do share sex toys, wash them or cover them with a new condom between each person who uses them.
Condoms / Femidoms also protect you from other STIs including HIV. Always check the packaging for the British Standard kitemark or European product mark as well as the date of expiry.Free condoms are available throughout Dumfries & Galloway. See the Clinic List.
Testing and treatment is available from:
If you wish to be seen or are seeking sexual health advice:
Mon - Fri 9.00am - 4.00pm
- General Practitioners
- Tel: 0345 702 3687 for other appointments