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June 7, 2019 | Family Medicine
Chlamydia is caused by bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis and is often spread through oral, vaginal or anal sex with an infected person. Chlamydia can also spread from a mother to her baby during childbirth.
If this STI goes untreated, women can develop pelvic inflammatory disease, which can lead to infertility and increases a woman’s risk of ectopic pregnancy. Untreated chlamydia in men rarely causes infertility, but it can cause the infection to spread to other parts of the reproductive system. Like most STIs, chlamydia increases a person’s risk of HIV.
Most people with chlamydia don’t have symptoms. This is dangerous because it means many people with chlamydia don’t know they have it and don’t seek treatment, which increases the risk of complications and spreading the infection to others.
Those who do have symptoms might notice the following:
Women may also notice pain during sex and men might have swollen testicles (although this is less common).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends annual screening, especially if you have a sexual partner who has an STI or if you are:
A urine test or cell sample from a cotton swab can help your doctor diagnose chlamydia. If the results come back positive, your doctor will likely prescribe an oral antibiotic. Make sure to follow your doctor’s instructions very carefully when taking an antibiotic to avoid complications. Severe cases of chlamydia may require IV antibiotics or hospitalization.
It’s critical that you tell your sexual partner(s) if you are diagnosed with chlamydia. Doing so allows them to be tested and treated promptly. It also prevents reinfection and infecting others.
After you have completed treatment, you should get tested again in three months, as reinfection is common.
Do not have unprotected sex until you’ve been retested for chlamydia. Ask your doctor when it is safe to have sex again.
To prevent chlamydia and other STIs:
“Chlamydia – CDC Fact Sheet.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/std/chlamydia/stdfact-chlamydia.htm.
“Chlamydia Symptoms and Treatment.” Avert: Global information and education on HIV and AIDS. https://www.avert.org/sex-stis/sexually-transmitted-infections/chlamydia
Maria Oneida, MD
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.