Chlamydia

Created: 03.08.2023

Updated: 02.02.2024

Approved by: Dr Binita Parmar

Chlamydia is an infection caused by a bacterium called chlamydia trachomatis. Chlamydia infection is a sexually transmitted disease. It can also be transmitted directly from fingers or objects. The bacterium chlamydia trachomatis primarily attacks the lining of the urethra and cervical canal, but can also cause infection in the anus and in the mouth. From the time you become infected until it is possible to detect the infection, it takes about 5-14 days.

If you have had unprotected sex or are aware of symptoms, it is recommended that you get tested.

Symptoms

There are often weak or no symptoms of the infection for a long time, and the bacterium can be present on the mucous membranes for several months and years before it gives symptoms. Both men and women can be infected with chlamydia. Women more often experience no symptoms of the infection than men.

Women

  • increased discharge from the vagina
  • pain or discomfort from the abdomen
  • minor bleeding after intercourse
  • bleeding in between periods
  • burning, pain or discomfort when urinating
  • discharge from the urethra may be glossy or white
  • abdominal pain and fever

Men

  • slight discharge from the penis may be shiny or white, often no discharge
  • burning, pain or discomfort when urinating
  • burning and itching from the urethra

When should I get tested for Chlamydia?

As the infection can be present for a long time without giving symptoms, it is recommended that everyone under the age of 25 be tested for a change of partner, at the earliest 14 days after.

In England you may be offered a chlamydia test as part of the National Chlamydia Screening Programme if you are a woman under 25 years old.

Others who should be tested are pregnant women, those with symptoms, men who have sex with men, women before the insertion of an IUD, and those who have been in contact with someone with a known infection.

Assessment

Women

For women a sample from the vagina, either as a self-test that you can take yourself discreetly in the toilet or that the doctor takes the sample at a gynaecological examination can be taken. The sample is taken by a cotton swab that is passed along the vaginal wall. A urine sample from women can be collected as an alternative method of confirmation.

Men

For men, it is desirable to have a urine sample sent to the laboratory for examination. The first part of the urine that is expelled is enough.

A swab inserted into the urethra is an alternative.

In the case of unprotected anal intercourse, a sample is taken with a cotton swab from the anal opening.

Test results

It can take up to a week before you get an answer to the test, but sometimes it takes less time. You will then receive an answer as to whether the test was positive (= chlamydia infection detected) or negative (= no chlamydia infection detected).

At Dr.Dropin, you will be contacted and informed of the result. If your test is positive, you will be informed by the doctor that you need treatment and that the person or persons you have had intercourse with must also be informed so that they can be tested and possibly also receive treatment.

Treatment

Chlamydia infection is treated with a course of antibiotics for 7 days. It is important that you take the entire course, even if you feel better after a few days, as there is a risk that the infection will flare up again if you do not complete the course and that the bacteria become resistant to the antibiotic (do not respond to treatment).

Complications

Chlamydia infection is usually not dangerous, but if you go with it untreated, it can cause complications.

Women

In women, the infection can spread to the pelvis and cause pelvic infection (inflammation of the abdomen), and then there is a risk of scar tissue forming in the fallopian tubes which can lead to ectopic pregnancy and infertility (infertility). If the woman is pregnant, there is an increased risk of miscarriage, premature rupture of the membrane and premature birth. The infection can also be transmitted to the baby during birth and cause the child conjunctivitis or pneumonia (rare).

Men

In men, the infection can spread to the epididymis, this typically causes one-sided, severe pain. The infection can also spread to the prostate.

You can get complications even if you have not had any symptoms.

FAQs about Chlamydia

I have had a Chlamydia infection before, can I get it again or am I immune?

Unfortunately, you are not immune after having a chlamydia infection in the past. This is an infection you can get several times, and it is therefore important to check if you are at risk of infection.

Is there a vaccine against Chlamydia?

No, unfortunately not.

What can happen if I have Chlamydia without noticing it?

You can have the infection for a long time without noticing it. This can lead to complications, and in the worst case lead to serious infection and sterility. You can then also spread the infection further if you have unprotected intercourse.

My partner has been diagnosed with Chlamydia, do I also need to be tested or can I receive treatment without a test?

It is not certain that you have been infected even if your partner has chlamydia, about 1 in 5 people are assumed to be infected during sexual intercourse with someone who has known the infection. It is therefore recommended that you also get tested (at the earliest 14 days after the possible time of infection) so that you receive treatment if you need it.

How can I protect myself from Chlamydia?

The safest way is to use a condom when having sex with a new partner. If you have had unprotected intercourse and are concerned about infection, it is advisable to test yourself no earlier than 14 days after the possible time of infection. In this way, a possible infection is detected early before potential complications develop.

How Dr. Dropin can help you

The doctors at Dr.Dropin are well experienced in assessing and managing sexually transmitted diseases. Your doctor will ask you questions, examine you and take the relevant samples as required and you will be contacted when the result of the test is available - regardless of whether there is a proven chlamydia infection or not. In the event of a positive test, you will also receive further information about the next steps to treat the infection.

References

  • Chlamydia NHS UK 2021 https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/chlamydia/diagnosis/ (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/chlamydia/diagnosis/)
  • Chlamydia - uncomplicated genital 2022 https://cks.nice.org.uk/topics/chlamydia-uncomplicated-genital/ (https://cks.nice.org.uk/topics/chlamydia-uncomplicated-genital/)

FAQs about chlamydia

I have had a chlamydia infection before, can I get it again or am I immune?

Unfortunately, you are not immune after having a chlamydia infection in the past. This is an infection you can get several times, and it is therefore important to check if you are at risk of infection.

Is there a vaccine against chlamydia?

No, unfortunately not.

What can happen if I have chlamydia without noticing it?

You can have the infection for a long time without noticing it. This can lead to complications, and in the worst case lead to serious infection and sterility. You can then also spread the infection further if you have unprotected intercourse.

My partner has been diagnosed with chlamydia, do I also need to be tested or can I receive treatment without a test?

It is not certain that you have been infected even if your partner has chlamydia, about 1 in 5 is assumed to be infected during sexual intercourse with someone who has known the infection. It is therefore recommended that you also get tested (at the earliest 14 days after the possible time of infection) so that you only receive treatment if you need it.

How can I protect myself from chlamydia?

The safest way is to use a condom when having sex with a new partner. If you have had unprotected intercourse and are anxious about infection, it is advisable to test yourself no earlier than 14 days after the possible time of infection. In this way, a possible infection is detected early before complications develop.

Doctor
General Practitioner

At Dr.Dropin our experienced GPs provide a wide range of primary care services, similar to those provided by the NHS, either in the clinic or through video consultations.

Dermatologist

At Dr.Dropin, you will receive specialist care from our expert Consultant Dermatologists provided by skindoc. With extensive experience from both public and private hospitals, we can assess and treat most chronic and acute skin disorders – either in the clinic, through video, or via a photo upload service.

How Dr. Dropin can help you

The doctors at Dr.Dropin have good experience with sexually transmitted diseases and receive patients with this every day. Your doctor will ask you questions, examine you and take the relevant samples as described above, and contact you when the answer to the test is available - regardless of whether there is a proven chlamydia infection or not. When ordering a home test, you will also receive good follow-ups and answers from the doctor with your test results in Pasientsky. In the event of a positive test, you will also be called and receive information about the further process.

References