Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted infection, affecting 3 to 4 million people each year. It is a bacterial infection usually spread through unprotected vagina, anal or oral sex. Chlamydia cannot be passed on through ‘casual contact’ i.e. you will not contract chlamydia from kissing, sharing baths, towels or toilet seats.
If left untreated Chlamydia may lead to more serious complications. In men the infection may spread to the testicles causing epididymitis, leading to infertility if left untreated long enough. If left untreated in women, chlamydia may lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, causing scarring inside a woman’s reproductive organs. This may result in complications and difficulties in becoming pregnant.
In many cases chlamydia is asymptomatic, with the infected individual not noticing any symptoms. However, the most common symptoms experienced include a burning sensation when urinating, in both men and women and often a discharge from the penis in men and from the vagina in women. Less common symptoms include lower abdominal pain.
Men may also experience tender or swollen testicles when infected with chlamydia.
A short course of antibiotics are effective at treating chlamydia.
Chlamydia treatment typically consists of a single dose of azithromycin. Alternatively, doxycycline can be used to treat chlamydia however this needs to be taken twice a day for 7 days.
Practicing safe sexual intercourse, using condoms is the safest way to prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted infections, as well as preventing unwanted pregnancy.