A Guide to Chlamydia: Symptoms, Testing and Prevention

Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases that exist due to its contagious nature as well as generally have few symptoms. This means that many people with the infection carry it and continue having unprotected sex, not knowing that they are spreading it.

This is the reason that it is so important to have regular tests for STDs in general, but for chlamydia in particular. The good news is that because it is a bacterial infection, it can be treated easily with antibiotics. In America, the disease is most common in younger people, with the most commonly infected age-group being those between 14 and 24. In this group, almost 3 million people are infected in America each year.

The reason for the high numbers of people infected with chlamydia is in part due to the way that it is transmitted. You can catch the infection through oral, vaginal, and anal sexual intercourse, meaning that if someone gets any genital fluids transmitted, then they are likely to become infected.

This is coupled with the infection being symptomless for the most part. Other STDs have apparent symptoms after only a few days of contraction, making people more likely to get treated. Chlamydia does not have any immediate symptoms, meaning that people often go for a long time without getting treatment. In this time, they may be infecting other people assuming that they have nothing to worry about.

Chlamydia does have long-term effects, though, and if you go, untreated can lead to infertility, especially in women. Chlamydia is simple to treat, though, and a short course of antibiotics will clear the infection up. The best form of prevention is to always use condoms with sexual partners that you don’t know for sure have no STIs or STDs, and to get checked regularly if you are sexually active.

How is chlamydia spread?

Chlamydia is spread through having sex with a person that already has the infection without using protection. Using a condom will eliminate a lot of the risk of getting chlamydia but isn’t 100% effective. The disease is spread most commonly through vaginal or anal sexual intercourse and can be transmitted even if neither person cums. Chlamydia can also be spread through oral sex as it is transmitted through infected fluids.

On rare occasions, you could get the infection if contaminated fluid gets in your eye, and a pregnant mother can give it to her unborn baby. As the fluid needs to access the body through unprotected skin such as the vagina or penis, you cannot get the infection through hugging, kissing, sneezing, or from a toilet seat.

The best method of preventing yourself from chlamydia is through protection whenever you have sex, using a condom correctly. It is also highly recommended to get a test whenever you have sex with a new partner to be sure. As the infection has no symptoms, they may not realize that they are infected.

What are the symptoms of chlamydia?

People that are infected with chlamydia generally don’t display any symptoms, making it difficult to be sure if you have the infection or not without a test. Some chlamydia symptoms appear less commonly, and if you notice any of them, you should get tested straight away. If you don’t catch that you have chlamydia and are infected for a long time, it can lead to more severe side effects, so don’t let the fact that there aren’t many symptoms put you at ease.

If left untreated, chlamydia can lead to severe infection or infertility. For both men and women, some of the signs to look out for are a pain when you pee, pain while having sex, pain in your lower belly, an unusual vaginal discharge, bleeding when you aren’t on your period, a penile discharge, painful or swollen testicles or an anal discharge.

These symptoms are not limited to chlamydia but should be looked into regardless of your sexual activity. If you have any of the above, then book yourself in for a test as soon as possible so you can get diagnosed and treated correctly before it turns into something more severe. Remember that the above symptoms are rare for chlamydia, so don’t wait until you see something before you get tested. A good rule of thumb is to get tested every few months at the minimum if you are sexually active to make sure that everything is in order.

Do I need to get tested for chlamydia?

There is only one way to know that you have chlamydia outside of getting a test, and that is if a current or past sexual partner tells you. This is standard practice if someone is diagnosed with the disease, and if you are ever diagnosed, you will be recommended to inform any sexual partners you’ve been within the last year. The reason for this is that as mentioned, people can often have chlamydia for months or longer and not know that they have it. Chlamydia is mostly symptomless, but the second reason that you should get tested is if you start to display any of the symptoms outlined above.

Outside of these two reasons, there will be nothing to tell you directly that you should get a test. Because of this, it is best to be proactive and get tested yourself if you think there is even a slim chance that you may have contracted it. If you have a new sexual partner, then this is a perfect time to get a test. Even if you ask that person if they have any infections or if they have been tested recently and they tell you no, it is best to get checked anyway.

That person may not be entirely truthful on the matter, or it might be that they don’t know themselves that they are infected. If you have had the same sexual partner or partners for the last few months or years, it is still useful to get tested every few months. This is for your health, and even if you have a good relationship with someone, you can’t be sure that they haven’t contracted the disease from somewhere. The good thing about getting tested for chlamydia, and most other STDs, is that the process is painless and straightforward. For the sake of 30 minutes of your day, it is worth it for the peace of mind.

What happens when I get a test for chlamydia?

A large part of what puts people off getting tested for chlamydia, or any other sexually transmitted infection or disease, is that they think that the test itself will be uncomfortable or invasive. For chlamydia, the test is straightforward, and most commonly, all that you need to do is pee in a cup. In other cases, your doctor may need to take a swab from your genitals, but this is less common and still is nothing to worry about.

As the symptoms of chlamydia are similar to other sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea, they may test for several diseases at once. This is useful as the more infections you can be tested for, the more secure you are that you are either infection-free or can get the treatment that you need.

For chlamydia, you can also get self-testing kits. These are often found at schools and universities and can be useful for people that would prefer to get tested without having to go to a clinic. In some countries like the UK and Europe, these are free to use, and a testing kit can be taken free of charge. Once you have the equipment, you need to pee into the container provided and then send it via free postage.

Your results will be sent to you via the method that you request, such as by text, to prevent anyone from finding a letter, for example. Once you have your test results back from either the clinic that you have visited or from your testing kit that you have sent yourself, you will then get the results. If the test comes back positive, then the good news is that you can get rid of the infection quickly. At your doctor’s, you will be able to take a single antibiotic orally that will clear up the disease without any need for further treatment.

Once you have taken the antibiotics, you should not have sex for at least seven days to ensure that the infection has gone completely. The next thing to do is to tell any current or previous sexual partners that you have tested positive and that they need to get tested and potentially treated too. This will go a long way to prevent them from getting any of the severe effects of the infection.

Also, it will help to prevent the spread of the disease further. If you are given antibiotics with several doses, make sure to take the whole prescription over the period you are assigned to assure that the infection is adequately dealt with.

 

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