What is Chlamydia?

"75% of women and 50% of men with the infection show no symptoms of Chlamydia"

About Chlamydia

Chlamydia is a very common Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) and is caused by a bacterium called Chlamydia trachomatis. The bacteria can be found in the semen of men and vaginal fluids of women who have the infection. Chlamydia can be passed from one person to another during unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex, or it can be passed by sharing sex toys. It can also be passed from mother to baby during birth.

Chlamydia is often referred to as the 'silent infection' as most people who have it don't show any symptoms. If left untreated in women, it can spread to the womb and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which is a major cause of infertility.

75% of women and 50% of men show no symptoms of Chlamydia. If there are any symptoms, these may include:

Chlamydia symptoms in women:

  • pain when passing urine (peeing)
  • pain in the lower abdomen (pelvic area)
  • unusual vaginal discharge
  • pain during or after sex
  • bleeding during or after sex
  • bleeding between periods
  • heavier periods than normal

Chlamydia symptoms in men:

  • pain when passing urine (peeing)
  • white/cloudy discharge from the tip of the penis
  • swelling and pain in the testicles
  • burning and itching in the genital area

For both men and women, symptoms can also include:

  • on rare occasions, pain, bleeding or discharge from the rectum
  • irritation, pain, swelling and discharge from the eyes which is the same as conjunctivitis
  • an infection in the throat

Chlamydia treatment

The main thing is not to worry or panic if you find out you have Chlamydia. It is usually treated with antibiotics, either as a single dose or a longer course for up to two weeks. If taken correctly, more than 95 out of 100 people treated will be cured. 

If you are pregnant, think you are pregnant or you are breast feeding, it is important to let your doctor know as this could affect the type of treatment you receive.

Notifying your sexual partner if you test positive for Chlamydia

If you test positive for Chlamydia, it is very important that you let your sexual partners know, as they may have it too. This is so they can get tested and treated for the infection. It is advised that you notify any sexual partners that you have had within the last six months.

If you do not wish to contact all your sexual partners yourself, your GUM (Genito Urinary Medicine) clinic or sexual health clinic can contact your sexual partners for you confidentially.