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What is chlamydia?

Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the UK. It’s passed between people through unprotected sexual contact.

While it can be easily treated if it’s caught early, if chlamydia is left untreated it can lead to serious health complications.

Our doctors can help you get tested and treated for chlamydia online. You can book an online appointment at a time to suit you and get the help you need discreetly from your home or workplace, without having to visit a GUM clinic.

Who is affected by chlamydia?

It can affect anyone of any age, but it’s most common in younger people. In fact, nearly 70% of cases are diagnosed in people under the age of 25.

Chlamydia is more commonly diagnosed in women, but this may be partly due to the fact that they’re more likely to see a doctor about it than men.

According to Public Health England, over 1.4 million young people aged 15-24 took a chlamydia test in 2016. Their figures estimate that 30% of females in this age group took a test, compared with just 12% of males.

Chlamydia symptoms

Up to 80% of women and 50% of men with chlamydia won’t get any symptoms. However, the infection can still cause damage, so it’s important to see a doctor if you think there’s a chance you might have it.

If symptoms do occur, you might notice:

Some symptoms are specific to women, such as:

  • Pelvic pain
  • Pain or bleeding during or after sex
  • Heavier periods than normal

For men, pain in the testicles is a sign that you might have chlamydia.

Find out more about the symptoms of chlamydia.

Chlamydia tests

You should see a doctor about getting tested for chlamydia if you think there’s a risk you have caught it. For example, if you’ve had unprotected sex with a new partner, your condom split, your current or former partner has been diagnosed, or you’ve noticed symptoms, it’s best to get checked out.

 

Chlamydia causes

Chlamydia is usually passed on through unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex. However, you can also get it from any form of unprotected sexual contact, sharing sex toys or getting infected genital fluid in your eye.

In addition to not using a condom, having lots of sexual partners and a previous history of infection makes you statistically more likely to get chlamydia.

Click here to find out more about the causes of chlamydia.

Chlamydia treatment

As chlamydia is a bacterial infection, it can be effectively treated with a short course of antibiotics.

Some people notice a few mild side effects while they’re taking their medication, such as stomach pain, diarrhoea and nausea, but these usually pass quickly.

While your medication will normally be effective in a week or so, the longer chlamydia is left untreated, the longer it will take to treat. This is another reason to see a doctor about it as soon as possible.

For more information on how chlamydia is treated, including how long you’ll need to wait before you can have sex again.

Chlamydia in pregnancy

If chlamydia isn’t treated straight away, it can cause serious fertility problems and put your baby’s health at risk.

It can cause scarring of the reproductive system in men and women, which can lower your chances of conceiving, and in some cases, lead to infertility.

In women, chlamydia can progress to more serious conditions such as pelvic inflammatory disease, which can increase your risk of an ectopic pregnancy.

The infection can also be passed on to your baby during pregnancy. This makes problems such as premature birth, miscarriage or stillbirth more likely. Your baby may be born with an infection, suffer from breathing difficulties or be more likely to develop health problems in later life.

Chlamydia can still be treated with antibiotics during pregnancy, but it’s important you speak to a doctor and make sure you’re prescribed medication that won’t harm your baby.

For more information on how chlamydia can affect your pregnancy and what you should do if you get it.