Island Sexual Health Society Be informed, not surprised!

Chlamydia symptoms, testing and treatment

2006 June 16

Chlamydia is a common, contagious and serious “sexually transmitted infection (STI/STD)”:/infections caused by the bacterium _Chlamydia trachomatis_.

“Make an appointment”:/about/appointments/ at any of our clinics in Greater Victoria to get tested for chlamydia, or to find out more.

* “How chlamydia spreads”:#spread
* “Preventing chlamydia”:#prevent
* “Chlamydia symptoms”:#symptoms
* “Risks of untreated chlamydia”:#risks
* “Chlamydia tests and diagnosis”:#tests
* “Chlamydia treatment”:#treatment

For further reading, see our “links and other resources”:/resources/external/.

h3(#spread). How chlamydia spreads

* Chlamydia is the most frequently reported bacterial STI in BC and in Canada
* It is extremely contagious and any sexually active person can get it
* People are frequently re-infected if they have sex before their treatment is completed or if their partners are not treated
* Chlamydia is transmitted through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex with an infected partner
* An infected mother can pass it on to her baby during vaginal childbirth
* After getting chlamydia once, you do *not* become “immune” to it. You can be infected again anytime

h3(#prevent). Preventing chlamydia

To prevent chlamydia, use good “sex safety”:/sex-safety/ skills including regular “infection screening”:/infections/.

* Use “condoms”:/sex-safety/using-condoms to reduce the risk of chlamydia during vaginal and anal sex
* Use condoms and “dental dams”:/sex-safety/dental-dams to prevent transmission during oral sex
* “Make an appointment”:/about/appointments/ to get tested for chlamydia

h3(#symptoms). Chlamydia symptoms

Chlamydia is known as “the silent disease” because it *shows no symptoms* in about 75% of infected women and 50% of infected men.

* For those few who do develop symptoms, they usually appear within 3 weeks after sex with an infected person
* Chlamydia bacteria can infect the cervix, urethra or rectum, and sometimes the throat after oral sex
* Chlamydia in women may cause symptoms such as different vaginal discharge, burning when urinating, bleeding in between periods or after intercourse, or lower abdominal pain
* Chlamydia in men may cause symptoms such as pain when urinating, itching in the penis, discharge from the penis or rarely pain or swelling of the testicles

h3(#risks). Risks of untreated chlamydia

* For women, chlamydia can spread to the reproductive organs resulting in “pelvic inflammatory disease”:/infections/pid (PID). PID can cause permanent damage resulting in infertility, ectopic pregnancy or chronic pelvic pain.
* For men, untreated chlamydia infections can cause prostate swelling, inflammation of the urethra, infection of the tube that carries sperm from the testes (epididymitis) and rarely infertility.
* In rare cases, chlamydia infections can cause arthritis with skin lesions (Reiter’s syndrome)

h3(#tests). Chlamydia tests and diagnosis

* Lab tests can be done with a urine sample or by taking a swab from the infected site such as the cervix, urethra, rectum

At ISHS, we always swab for chlamydia whenever we do a “Pap test”:/exams/female/, but this is not routinely done for Pap tests outside our clinic. Outside of our clinic, always ask for STI swabs to be done if you want them taken during a Pap test.

h3(#treatment). Chlamydia treatment

* Chlamydia is easily treated and cured with antibiotics (provided you finish all the medication)
* All recent sex partners (previous 60 days ) need to be treated
* You need to abstain from having sex until 1 week after you and your partner have completed the entire course of antibiotics. If not, you can easily become re-infected.