Chlamydia Symptoms, Treatment & Causes

"An anxious young woman came into the pharmacy and asked if she could have a private chat. She had been reading an article about Chlamydia and was worried that she might have it. She didn’t have any symptoms, however she had met someone a couple of weeks ago and, after a few drinks, they had sex without using a condom."

What is Chlamydia?

Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the UK. It is caused by bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis which is found in the semen and vaginal fluids of people with the infection. It is passed from one person to another through unprotected sex (sex without using a condom). Chlamydia is most common in people under 25 years of age, although people of any age can get it.

Most people who have Chlamydia don’t know they have it as they don’t notice any symptoms; research suggests that 50% of men and 70-80% of women don’t get any symptoms at all with a Chlamydia infection.

Chlamydia symptoms, treatments and causes

If someone with Chlamydia does have symptoms, these can include pain when urinating, an unusual discharge from the penis, vagina or rectum or, in women, bleeding between periods or after sex.

‘The young woman was worried that if she did have Chlamydia, she might have passed it onto her flatmate as they shared the same bathroom. She also wanted to know if Chlamydia can be treated and if there was any risk of long term health problems.’

How is Chlamydia Spread?

Chlamydia is only passed from one person to another through unprotected sex; you can’t catch Chlamydia from sharing things such as toilets or towels with someone who has the infection. 

Chlamydia Treatment

Chlamydia is easily treated with antibiotics. You may be given a single dose, or a longer course of antibiotics to take for a week. You should avoid all sex, including oral and anal, even with a condom, for seven days or until you have completed your course of treatment.

If Chlamydia isn’t treated, the infection can sometimes spread to other parts of the body and can lead to serious long-term health problems for both men and women such as pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility (not being able to have children).

Getting Tested for Chlamydia

If you have had unprotected sex and are worried you might have Chlamydia or another STI, visit your pharmacy, GP, sexual health clinic or a genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic. If you do have Chlamydia, the sooner it is treated the less likely you are to develop long-term health problems.

Testing for Chlamydia is done with a urine test or a swab test. You don’t always have to have a physical examination by a doctor or nurse.

Some Alphega Pharmacies offer Chlamydia Screening and Treatment Service. All visits are confidential and most of our pharmacies have a private consultation room. 

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