What is Chlamydia?
Chlamydia is a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) caused by a bacterium that can infect anyone.

How does someone get chlamydia?

  • Anyone can get chlamydia. It is very common and can be easily transmitted during vaginal, oral and anal sex.
  • If you are pregnant and have chlamydia, you can pass the infection to your baby during childbirth.
  • Most people who have chlamydia don’t know it.
  • Often, this infection does not present with symptoms.
  • You can pass chlamydia to others without knowing it.
  • Chlamydia is easy to treat and cure.
  • If you do not treat chlamydia, it can lead to serious health problems.
  • Even if you have had chlamydia before, you can still catch it again.

How can I lower my risk for chlamydia?

  • Use condoms every time you have sex.
  • Get tested as often as necessary.
  • Limit your number of partners.
  • Do not have sex if drunk or have used illicit drugs.

N.B. Washing the genitals after sex will not prevent STIs.

What are the symptoms of chlamydia?
You may not know that you have chlamydia but you may still be infected and pass the infection to other sexual partners. Most people who have chlamydia do not know they have it. However, you may experience:

Persons with female anatomical and physiological characteristics:

  • Increased discharge and/or change in colour or smell.
  • Burning sensation or discomfort while passing urine.
  • Bleeding after sex.
  • Bleeding between periods or heavier periods.
  • Abdominal pain.

Persons with male anatomical and physiological characteristics:

  • Burning sensation or discomfort while passing urine.
  • Discharge from the penis.
  • Burning or itching sensation at the opening of the penis.
  • Discomfort/pain and/or swelling in the testicles.

Common symptoms in individuals:

  • Rectal pain.
  • Rectal bleeding.
  • Rectal discharge.
  • Eye infections following contact with genital secretions.

How can I find out if I have chlamydia?

  • You can call the Genitourinary Clinic at Mater Dei Hospital (Out-patients Level 2) on 25457494/1 for appointment.
  • The doctor may carry out a blood test, ask you for a urine sample, or use a cotton swab, which is an easy and a painless test for chlamydia. You may get tested for other STIs as one can have other sexually transmitted infections at the same time.

When should I be tested?

  • You should be tested as soon as you experience any of the symptoms listed above.
  • If you had or are having unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex.
  • If you are having unprotected sex with more than one partner.

How is chlamydia treated?

  • Chlamydia is treated and cured with antibiotics.
  • Make sure to finish all medicines. Do not share them with others.
  • The doctor will inform you when you can be sexually active again. It is important that you do not have sex until the completion of the treatment. The treatment may be one dose or may take longer. Follow your doctor’s advice. The duration of treatment will affect when you can have sex again.
  • It is important to tell your doctor if you are pregnant as you will need different antibiotics.

Can I get chlamydia again after I’ve been treated?

  • Yes, you can get chlamydia again. You can get it from an untreated sexual partner.

What are the complications of chlamydia if I don’t get treated?
In persons with female anatomical and physiological characteristics:

  • A person can develop complications such as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). Chlamydia can spread into the uterus or Fallopian tubes and cause PID. The symptoms of PID include: abdominal/pelvic pain (which can be long-lasting), fever, and internal abscesses.
  • This damage may affect your chance of getting pregnant, including by causing infertility, or lead to an ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the uterus or in the Fallopian tubes).

In persons with male anatomical and physiological characteristics:

  • It can cause inflammation in the epididymis and/or testicles, which can be painful and cause fever.
  • This infection can cause damage to the urethra leading to difficulty in passing urine.
  • Rarely, it may affect fertility, even leading to infertility.

Common complications in all individuals:

  • Reiter’s Syndrome: a form of arthritis leading to inflammation and swelling of joints.

Do I have to inform my partner about chlamydia?

  • Your partner may have chlamydia too.
  • Be sure to tell your recent sex partners so that they can get tested and treated. They may also have it without knowing.
  • Healthcare professionals may help you in notifying your sexual partners in a confidential manner.
  • If someone shares their sexual health status with you, be thankful - don’t shame them. You and your partner can get tested and treated!

Chlamydia and pregnancy

The unborn child of a pregnant mother infected with chlamydia can be born prematurely and may develop eye infections or pneumonia.

Does chlamydia affect my risk of getting infected with HIV?
Chlamydia can also facilitate HIV transmission. The genital inflammation caused by chlamydia can give rise to unusual sore/s in genital tissue, creating potential sites where the HIV virus can enter the body.

How can chlamydia be prevented?
Gonorrhea and other STIs can be successfully prevented by using appropriate contraception and taking other precautions, such as:

  • Using male condoms or female condoms every time you have vaginal sex, or male condoms during anal sex.
  • Using a condom to cover the penis or a latex or plastic square (dam) to cover the female genitals if you have oral sex.
  • Not sharing sex toys, or washing them before and after sex and covering them with a new condom before anyone else uses them.

Further information and help

  • Talk to your doctor.
  • Call the GU Clinic on 25457494/1 for an appointment.