Chlamydia symptoms, testing and treatment

Chlamydia is a common, contagious and serious sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis.

Make an appointment at any of our clinics in Greater Victoria to get tested for chlamydia, or to find out more.

Things to know about Chlamydia

For further reading, see BCCDC’s information.

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 person 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

Preventing chlamydia

To prevent chlamydia, use good sex safety skills including regular infection screening.

  • Use condoms to reduce the risk of chlamydia during vaginal and anal sex
  • Use condoms and dental dams to prevent transmission during oral sex
  • Make an appointment to get tested for chlamydia

Chlamydia symptoms

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

  • 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 people with vaginas may cause symptoms such as different vaginal discharge, burning when urinating, bleeding in between periods or after intercourse, or lower abdominal pain
  • Chlamydia in people with pensies may cause symptoms such as pain when urinating, itching in the penis, discharge from the penis or rarely pain or swelling of the testicles

Risks of untreated chlamydia

  • For people with vaginas, chlamydia can spread to the reproductive organs resulting in pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID can cause permanent damage resulting in infertility, ectopic pregnancy or chronic pelvic pain.
  • For people with penises, 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)

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, or throat

At ISHS, we always swab for chlamydia whenever we do a Pap test, but this may not be 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.

Chlamydia treatment

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