Chlamydia

Chlamydia is caused by Chlamydia trachomatis, a bacterium that is found in vaginal and seminal fluids. This sexually transmitted infection (STI) is passed on through sexual activity such as vaginal, anal and oral sex. Chlamydia can also be contracted from the sharing of sex toys and women can pass on the infection to their children during childbirth. The infection lives inside the cells of the urethra, cervix or rectum and in some cases it can live inside the cells of the throat and eyes.

Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) affecting the 15 to 24 year old age group. One in ten sexually active young people are thought to be infected with Chlamydia. Of all of the STIs it is the most common in the United Kingdom. The reason for this is likely due to its ‘silent nature’.

What are the symptoms of chlamydia?

Testing

In order to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections, especially considering the fact that some infections are symptomless, one should have a sexual health test every time they change sexual partner. Testing for chlamydia is free on the NHS and in the GUM (genito-urinary medicine) clinics. A full sexual health screen can be carried out at a GUM clinic. They can be found at the local hospital or health centre. A GP referral is not necessary and in many of these clinics, an appointment is not necessary either.

For those who do not wish to see a doctor or nurse in a face to face environment, sexual health tests are available online. Urine samples can be sent in the post to test for all urethral infections. Some STDs will require a sample of blood for testing and therefore, visiting a GUM clinic is essential.

Prevention

Using condoms (male or female), for vaginal, anal and oral sex ,is the only way to avoid contracting chlamydia and having regular sexual health check-ups will prevent against the spread of this common STI.

Treatment

Chlamydia treatment is the same for both men and women. Azithromycin is commonly prescribed to clear up the infection and is taken as a single dose. If one is allergic to Azithromycin, Doxycycline is usually prescribed instead. This antibiotic cannot be given to pregnant women however as it poses a risk to unborn babies.

If antibiotics are taken correctly they have a 95% success rate of clearing the infection. Antibiotics may interfere with certain types of oral contraceptives.

Treatment will be prescribed if a partner has tested positive for chlamydia. Sexual activity should be avoided for a week after treatment has ceased and once there are no symptoms present.

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