Chlamydia… ever heard of it? A lot of people don’t know about this sexually transmitted disease, and the symptoms are so mild that they are often overlooked. The problem with Chlamydia is that although people who are infected feel fine, it can cause serious future health issues if left untreated – the most common is permanent damage to the female reproductive system.
A 2017 study showed that in South Africa, 14.7% of women and 6% of men are infected with Chlamydia – so it’s actually quite common! Here’s the lowdown on Chlamydia, how to prevent infection, and treatment. Luckily there is a cure for Chlamydia!
What is Chlamydia?
Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that is carried by semen, pre-cum and vaginal fluids. The STD can infect all areas of the genitals – penis, vagina, cervix, anus and urethra – as well as the eyes and throat.
What are the symptoms of Chlamydia?
The symptoms of initial Chlamydia infection are so mild that most people don’t even know that they have it, so it goes untreated. Some people may experience the following:
- In women, a vaginal discharge and burning sensation when urinating.
- In men, a discharge from the penis, burning sensation when urinating and pain and swelling of the testicles.
- If the infection has spread to the anus, there can be rectal pain, discharge and bleeding.
These symptoms sound bad, but they are rare. If there are any symptoms, they are usually very mild, and many people with Chlamydia have no symptoms at all. This is why getting tested for STDs is so important so that you can protect yourself and your sexual partners from ‘silent’ STDs like Chlamydia or Herpes.
Is there a treatment for Chlamydia?
Yes! The good news is that Chlamydia can be completely cured with a simple course of antibiotics. The treatment usually lasts 7 days, and you should wait until you have finished your medicine before having sex. Repeat infection of Chlamydia is common, so it’s advisable to get tested again after 3 months.
What happens if Chlamydia is not treated?
Chlamydia can cause major long term health issues if left untreated, particularly for women. It can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, permanently damage the reproductive system, and lead to painful and dangerous ectopic pregnancy (where the fertilised egg implants in the fallopian tube instead of in the uterus wall). Men get off a little more lightly, although the infection can spread to the tube that carries sperm through the penis, and cause infertility.
Untreated Chlamydia also increases your chance of HIV infection.
How to prevent Chlamydia infection
The answer is quite simple – practice safe sex! As with all STDs, using a condom significantly lowers your chances of contracting an infection. As mentioned above, because the symptoms are mild, it’s important to get tested for Chlamydia regularly so that if you find out you do have it, you can get treated and avoid passing it on to someone else.
For more information and support, contact the Love Life Sexual Health Line on 0800 121 900.