Chlamydia

By Dr Kelvin Adams. Updated 13th October 2014

Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted infection in Australia. It is caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis.

It can infect the vagina (cervix), penis (urethra), and anus. Less commonly it can infect the throat and eyes (conjunctiva).

It can occur in both women and men of all ages. It is most common in people under 25 years of age. It can occur 1 – 3 weeks after sexual exposure.

It is spread by unprotected sex with an infected individual.

In more than half of cases, the infection can be asymptomatic (without symptoms). If asymptomatic, it can persist for months.

If symptoms occur, in women it most often causes pain when passing urine, vaginal discharge or pain during sex.

In men, it most often causes pain when passing urine or discharge from the penis. Occasionally it may cause testicular pain.

In men or women who practice anal sex, it may cause anal discharge or pain.

If left untreated, in women it can lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) and infertility.

It can be tested for by a urine sample or swab.

Chlamydia is easily treated with a single dose of an antibiotic. In more complicated or severe cases, a prolonged course of antibiotics may be required.

It is important to get all of your sexual partners for the past 6 months tested and treated.

You should abstain from sex or use condoms for all types of sexual activity for 1 week after treatment.

You should be re-tested if your symptoms do not resolve, or 3 months after treatment if your symptoms do resolve, to make sure that you have not been asymptomatically re-infected.

Even if you have had Chlamydia in the past and been treated, you can be re-infected.

To avoid Chlamydia, you should practice safe sex with a condom.

 

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