1. What is it?
Chlamydia is a bacterial infection caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. It is a very common sexually transmitted infection, especially among young people aged 15-24 years. Chlamydia is spread through vaginal, anal, and oral sex. Chlamydia is easily treated and most people who have it do not show any symptoms.
2. How do you get Chlamydia?
Chlamydia is usually spread during sexual contact with someone who has the infection. The main ways people get chlamydia are from having vaginal sex and anal sex, but it can also be spread through oral sex. Rarely, you can get chlamydia by touching your eye if you have infected fluids on your hand. Chlamydia can also be spread to a baby during birth if the mother has it.
3. How soon will symptoms appear?
This can be quite variable and may range from days to months after the initial exposure. The average time from exposure to the development of symptoms is usually about one to three weeks after sexual contact with an infected person.
4. What are the symptoms?
Most people who have chlamydia have no symptoms. Even when chlamydia causes no symptoms, it can damage your reproductive system. The symptoms in women can include: an abnormal vaginal discharge; a burning sensation when urinating. Symptoms in men can include: a discharge from their penis; a burning sensation when urinating; pain and swelling in one or both testicles (although this is less common). Men and women can also get infected with Chlamydia in their rectum. Symptoms can include: rectal pain; discharge; bleeding.
5. Testing and treatment.
Laboratory tests can diagnose Chlamydia. Your health care provider may ask you to provide a urine sample or may use a cotton swab to get a sample from your urethra or rectum to test for Chlamydia. If you have Chlamydia your doctor will prescribe oral antibiotics. Your doctor will also recommend your partner(s) be treated to prevent reinfection and further spread of the disease. With treatment the infection should clear up in about a week or two.
6. How do I reduce the chances of getting Chlamydia?
Chlamydia is spread through sexual fluids like semen, pre-cum, and vaginal fluids. Using condoms and dental dams will significantly lower the risk of getting infected. Getting tested regularly is also important as you may have no symptoms.