Frequently Asked Questions about Chlamydia

What Is Chlamydia?

Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that is transmitted through sexual contact. If left untreated, it can have a serious impact on the ability to have children.

How Common Is Chlamydia?

Chlamydia is the most common bacterial, sexually-transmitted disease in the United States. Anyone who has unprotected sex is at risk for being infected with the bacteria.

How Do People Get Chlamydia?

The Chlamydia bacteria are transmitted through vaginal, anal or oral sex. Chlamydia can be transmitted through both heterosexual and homosexual contact.

What Are the Symptoms of Chlamydia?

Chlamydia often has no symptoms, so that people don’t know they have it. Symptoms are different in men and in women and may appear from 5 to 10 days after transmission of the bacteria.

In woman, symptoms include:

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge or discharge from the cervix
  • Low-grade fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Pain or bleeding during urination
  • The urge to urinate frequently
  • Swelling around the vaginal or anus
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Vaginal bleeding with intercourse

Men may experience symptoms of:

  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Watery or milky discharge from the penis
  • Swelling around the anus
  • Swollen or tender testicles

What Happens If Chlamydia Goes Untreated?

Women who do not get treatment for a Chlamydia infection can develop pelvic inflammatory disease, which can lead to infertility. Men who are not treated for Chlamydia can develop a condition called epididymitis, which can lead to sterility or reactive arthritis, which causes pain and swelling in the joints. If a woman is pregnant and is infected with Chlamydia, she can pass the infection to her baby during the birth process. Chlamydia can cause pneumonia or eye infections in newborns.

How Is Chlamydia Diagnosed?

Chlamydia can be diagnosed by taking a swab of fluid from inside the penis or from the cervix. This is then sent to a laboratory for analysis. A urine test can also detect the presence of Chlamydia bacteria.

Who Should Be Tested For Chlamydia?

Men and women under the age of 25 who are sexually active are at highest risk for Chlamydia infection.

What Should I Do If I Test Positive For Chlamydia?

If your test is positive, you should see your doctor for appropriate treatment and follow his or her instructions in taking the treatment medication.

Can I Test For Chlamydia at Home?

Home tests for Chlamydia are available, but they are not reliable. The best way to know if you have been infected is to get tested through your doctor or a health clinic.

What Is the Treatment For Chlamydia?

Chlamydia infections are treated with antibiotics, such as azithromycin or doxycycline. You should take the medication exactly as directed to completely eliminate the bacteria. Your doctor may also recommend that your partner also be treated. Severe cases of Chlamydia may require intravenous antibiotic in the hospital.

You and your partner should not have sex until treatment is completed. Re-infection with Chlamydia bacteria is common. You should be re-tested every three months to ensure the infection has been eliminated.