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What is Chlamydia?
Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that affects both women and men. It is caused by the Chlamydia trachomatis bacterium and can often be asymptomatic.
Chlamydia is caused by a bacterial infection, but how it spreads depends on the individual situation. It is transmitted through direct sexual contact, including oral and anal sex.
Chlamydia most commonly affects the genital area, where it is spread during sexual intercourse, but it can also infect the throat and anus. Anal chlamydia is transmitted through anal sex, and chlamydia in the throat is transmitted through oral sex.
If a woman with chlamydia becomes pregnant or contracts the infection while pregnant, there is a chance that she can pass it to her baby during labor.
The symptoms of chlamydia can be so subtle that you don't even notice you have it. Around 80% of people show no symptoms initially, so it is important to get regular tests to notice any changes.
- Pain during sex
- Painful urination
- Abdominal pain
- Abnormal vaginal discharge or bleeding
- White or yellow discharge from penis
- Discharge from anus
- Swollen testicles
Chlamydia symptoms women vs men
Chlamydia in the vagina:
- Abnormal bleeding
- Foul or yellow discharge
- Bleeding after sex
- Pain while urinating
- Itchy genitals
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
Chlamydia in the penis:
- Swollen testicles
- Milky or yellow discharge
- Pain while urinating
- Itchy genitals |
In addition to the sexual organs, it is possible to get chlamydia in the eye and throat. Chlamydia in throat is called a pharyngeal chlamydia infection, while chlamydia in eye is called chlamydial conjunctivitis.
If left untreated in women, chlamydia can cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), an infection caused by chlamydia that spreads throughout the pelvis. If the infection reaches the fallopian tubes, it causes swelling and scarring that can lead to infertility.
Women with later stage chlamydia are also at risk of developing chronic pelvic pain and ectopic pregnancies.
To test for chlamydia, a doctor or lab technician will collect a swab, blood test or urine sample from the mouth, genitals or both.
The samples will be sent away to a lab, where they will be examined by technicians. Depending on how busy they are, the results can take days or weeks to arrive.
While chlamydia can cause long-lasting damage, it is very easy to get rid of. Usually, just one antibiotic is taken to treat the infection, although each brand differs.
As well as taking the antibiotic yourself, any sexual partners you have had since becoming infected also need to take the antibiotic. It is important to let anyone you have had sex with know that they might be infected. Otherwise, they could infect others before they realize.
The chlamydia incubation period is about 2 weeks, so it is also possible to pass it on to others before showing symptoms yourself.
Is chlamydia common?
Chlamydia is one of the most common STDs, with around 0.5% of Americans being infected at once. There were over 1.7 million infections reported in 2017!
What causes chlamydia?
Chlamydia is caused by a bacterium called Chlamydia trachomatis.
How long does chlamydia last?
Chlamydia can only be gotten rid of with antibiotics, so it lasts until you take them. If it is not treated with antibiotics, chlamydia can lead to severe health complications including chronic pain and infertility.
What does chlamydia look like?
Chlamydia yellow discharge is what most people picture when they think of the infection, but many people experience no symptoms at all. Other symptoms include chlamydia rash, abnormal bleeding and burning while urinating.
What is chlamydia rash?
Occasionally, chlamydia can cause a rash, but this is rare and usually triggered by exposure to sunlight.
Can you get chlamydia from kissing?
Chlamydia cannot be transmitted through kissing alone. It can be transmitted through sexual contact, though, so kissing may lead to interactions that spread the infection.
Can you get chlamydia from oral sex?
Yes. Chlamydia is passed via any sexual contact, including oral, anal and penetrative sex. The best way to protect yourself from any STD during oral sex is to use dental dams.
Can chlamydia go away on its own?
Chlamydia will not go away without antibiotics and can cause health problems if left to develop. The treatment is accessible, easy to take and fast-acting, so chlamydia is not a difficult STD to treat.