Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the Chlamydia Trachomatis infection. It’s the most frequently reported STI in the United States with nearly 3 million cases reported each year.
How Is Chlamydia Spread?
You can only get chlamydia from someone already infected with the STI; it’s transmitted by vaginal, anal, or oral sex. If you’ve had it before, you can get reinfected with it, regardless if you were in contact with bodily fluids or not.
If you’re pregnant, your child can contract the infection during the birthing process. Sequelae in your baby can range from premature delivery to newborn conjunctivitis and potentially life-threatening conditions such as pneumonia.
You should get tested for chlamydia at your first prenatal visit. Testing and treatment are the best ways to reduce complications.
While unprotected sex can lead to infection, using latex condoms consistently and correctly reduces your likelihood of getting the STI.
Abstinence as a Way of Eliminating Risk for Infection
Abstinence is the only proven way to avoid catching or spreading this STI. However, you can limit your risk of getting this infection by being in a monogamous relationship with a partner who tests negative for chlamydia.
Chlamydia Signs and Symptoms
Many people with chlamydia have few or no symptoms. In fact, 75% of women and 50% of men do not experience symptoms. If symptoms do show up, it’s 1-3 weeks after infection.
In men, the following symptoms can indicate a chlamydia infection:
* Pain and/or swelling in your testes
* Pain or burning whenever you pee
* Increased amount of clear or cloudy discharge from the penis
* Itching in or around your urethra
In women, the following chlamydia symptoms may appear:
* Pain or burning when you pee
* A change in color, odor, or consistency of your discharge from your normal
* Pain or discomfort during sex or after sex
* Bleeding after sex or outside of your normal menstrual cycle
* Lower abdominal pain or discomfort
The most common and serious complications occur in women. Chlamydia in women can lead to serious consequences like pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ectopic pregnancy, tubal factor infertility, and chronic pelvic pain.
Symptoms of chlamydia in the throat are caused by having oral sex with someone with the infection. Chlamydia in the throat is considered a mouth infection and may look a lot like pharyngitis.and swallowing can be painful.
Throat symptoms don’t show up very often, but if they do, you’ll notice them a week or several months after the initial infection.
If you think you contracted the virus through oral sex, let your provider know so they can do a throat swab and test for the infection that way.
When To Test?
People 25 and younger should get tested once a year if you have new or multiple sexual partners. You should also get tested if symptoms appear and persist. Don’t forget to get your partner tested as well!
How’s Chlamydia Tested?
While there are STI testing kits available, a health care professional will be able to offer the most accurate results.
Your provider will do one of three tests to confirm a chlamydia diagnosis:
Swab: Your provider will use a cotton swab to sample potentially infected tissue or collect fluid, then send it to their laboratory to see which bacteria grows from the sample.
Urine test: Your urine sample is sent off to a laboratory to see if any chlamydia bacteria are present in your pee.
Blood test: Your doctor will draw some of your blood and send it to a lab to see if antibodies to the chlamydia bacteria are in your bloodstream.
If the samples are sent offsite to a laboratory, it may take 2-5 days to get the results. However, some clinics can do an onsite blood test to get immediate results.
Thankfully, chlamydia is curable with a dose of antibiotics prescribed by your provider. With most antibiotic options, within a week or two the infection and its accompanying symptoms will clear.
If you take antibiotics to treat chlamydia, take the full dose since the medicine won’t work if the full prescribed dose isn’t taken. In some cases, an incomplete dose can cause the infectious bacteria to become resistant to the medicine, making them harder to treat.
We recommend that while taking the medication you abstain from sex. If you have sex before the infection is fully treated, you can spread the infection to a partner, even if you use a condom.
While taking antibiotics, you may still experience painful or uncomfortable symptoms so ask your provider about taking over-the-counter pain killers to reduce the pain and ice packs to limit swelling and inflammation.
Need A Free Chlamydia Test?
Visit The Source to get tested for chlamydia and other STIs for free; you can even bring your partner to get tested as well. Click the button below to book a 30-minute appointment!