Chlamydia

Chlamydia Overview

Chlamydia is the most commonly reported bacterial sexually transmitted disease in the United States and it's on the rise, especially among young women. Health officials believe that some 4 million people are infected with the bacteria.

Chlamydia is caused by a bacteria, Chlamydia trachomatis, that can be passed from person to person during vaginal, anal and oral sex, even if the tongue, penis or sex toy doesn't fully penetrate the anus or vagina. The bacteria attacks the mucous membranes it comes in contact with, including inside the penis, vagina, anus and throat. It's also possible for an infected mother to transmit chlamydia to her baby in vaginal childbirth, potentially causing serious infection. Transmission most commonly occurs during unprotected sex but can be passed between partners even when a condom is used.

The good news is that chlamydia is easily treated and curable with antibiotics. Left untreated, however, chlamydia can lead to serious health problems down the road, including infertility, and increase your risk of getting other STDs, like HIV. Data from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that 10-15% of untreated chlamydia cases result in Pelvic inflammatory Disease (PID), which can lead to infertility. Some 750,000 PID cases are diagnosed each year in the United States, not to mention the medical costs of chlamydia, including diagnosis and treatment of associated infertility, are more than $700 million annually.

Chlamydia spreads easily. If you have it, it’s likely your sexual partner does, too. You should both get tested and treated at the same time so that you don't re-infect one another or anyone else.

Chlamydia Symptoms

Often, chlamydia is silent, meaning you can have the infection and not know it. That's why getting tested is so important. If you do show symptoms, they'll typically occur within 7 to 14 days after sexual contact.

 

Chlamydia symptoms in women

 
Common
  • No symptoms
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Burning or painful urination
  • Bleeding after sex or between periods
 
Uncommon
  • Pelvic pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Nausea or fever
  • Pain during sex
  • Sore throat
  • Rash
  • Rectal discharge, pain or bleeding

 

Chlamydia symptoms in men

 
Common
  • No symptoms
  • Discharge from penis
  • Burning or painful urination
 
Uncommon
  • Burning, discomfort or itching around the opening of the penis
  • Testicular pain or swelling
  • Sore throat
  • Rash
  • Rectal discharge, pain or bleeding

 

Throat or rectal symptoms

Both men and women who have anal sex can get rectal infections and may experience chlamydia symptoms including rectal discharge, pain or bleeding, or swelling of the rectum. Even women who only have vaginal sex can get rectal chlamydia by spreading the infection from their genitals when wiping.

Symptoms of oral chlamydia, which is generally passed from person to person through oral sex include a sore throat and some pain with swallowing. Throat infections are more commonly the result of a virus or Strep, however, if you've have had oral sex recently, it could mean oral chlamydia or, more commonly, gonorrhea in the throat. If you have these symptoms you should see a local health care provider for examination and throat culture.

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Chlamydia Risks & Complications

Anyone can get chlamydia, usually through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex.

The most common risk factors are:

  • A history of chlamydia
  • A history of unprotected sex (vagina, anal or oral)
  • A new sexual partner
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • A history of substance abuse

How is chlamydia spread?

Chlamydia is only transmitted sexually, or through birth. You cannot get chlamydia from toilet seats, towels, shaking hands, deep kissing, sharing a glass of water, or the like.

Is it possible to get chlamydia again?

Even if you've been treated for chlamydia, you're not immune. You can be re-infected. All sexual partners should be treated at the same time to prevent reinfection or the further spread of infection.

Chlamydia Testing & Treatment

How do I get tested for chlamydia?

We make getting tested for chlamydia simple. If you are concerned about a recent sexual encounter or you want to know your status, we offer a simple and discreet chlamydia testing kit that you can have shipped to your door. You’ll notice that the chlamydia and gonorrhea are tested in the same kit. Due to the high rate of co-infection it is standard medical practice to test for these 2 infections together.
Note: The CDC especially recommends annual chlamydia screening for sexually active women age 25 and younger.

What chlamydia test results mean

A positive test result means you have an active chlamydia infection that can be treated and cured with antibiotics.

If you test positive for chlamydia, we're here to help. You'll have the opportunity to talk with our doctors for a phone consult. We'll answer your questions, prescribe treatment, and help you determine the next steps based on your specific circumstances.

When should I test for chlamydia?

If you are not having any symptoms, our doctors recommend getting tested 3 weeks after you believe you were first exposed and then again 3 months later. A “testing window” is the amount of time between when a person contracts a disease until the time the test will be positive. For example, if you had unprotected sex last night and became infected with chlamydia, the test wouldn't necessarily be positive right away. It can take up to 3 weeks to test positive. The testing window is different for each STD.

Chlamydia Reinfection

Even if you were treated for chlamydia, you could be at risk for reinfection, especially if your partner(s) has not been treated. It’s recommended that you get tested again in 3 months to make sure that you haven't been re-infected. According to The New England Journal of Medicine, 13% of people with chlamydia get re-infected.

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