Chlamydia

Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in New Zealand. Read about the symptoms and learn how to protect yourself.

Also known as:  Chlamydial infection


Overview

  • If you’re sexually active, it pays to get regular check-ups.

  • Getting tested for chlamydia is important, to protect yourself and your sexual partners because if chlamydia goes untreated for a long time it can lead to long terms issues such as pelvic inflammatory disease or infertility.

  • There are 3 ways to test for chlamydia: 

    • A urine test 

    • A vaginal swab

    • A throat or anal swab if there has been contact in those areas

  • Getting tested for chlamydia is important, to protect yourself and your sexual partners because if chlamydia goes untreated for a long time it can lead to long terms issues such as pelvic inflammatory disease or infertility.


What causes chlamydia?

  • Chlamydia is an infection that is spread through sexual contact.

  • If a person is infected, they can pass it on to their sexual partner/s easily through:

    • vaginal, anal and oral sex (higher risk)

    • sharing sex toys 

    • mutual masturbation and

    • fingering (lower risk)

  • Chlamydia can still be passed on even when the infected partner hasn’t ejaculated.


Symptoms in adults

  • Often people will have chlamydia without any obvious symptoms, so can pass it on to their sexual partner without realising.

  • If they do have symptoms, they may experience:

    • Abnormal vaginal discharge – it may be discoloured, have a different smell or a different texture than usual

    • Vaginal bleeding, which may occur more after sex 

    • White coloured discharge from the penis or rectum 

    • Pain at the penis opening – it may be red or darker in colour 

    • Painful and/or swollen testicles 

    • Pain in the lower abdomen 

    • Pain when peeing

  • People can also get the chlamydial infection in their throat, but it’s quite rare and often doesn’t present with any symptoms.


Treatments for adults

  • Chlamydia is easily treated with antibiotics tablets..

  • As with any antibiotics, it’s very important to take the full course, even if you start to feel better partway through.

  • Some antibiotics can reduce the effectiveness of the contraceptive pill, so an alternative contraceptive method such as condoms may need to be used. Discuss this with your doctor.

  • During treatment, a person can still be infectious. So they should either refrain from sexual activity or use a condom for 1 week from the start of their treatment.

  • A follow-up test is recommended 3 months after treatment to make sure the patient hasn’t been re-infected. 

  • All sexual contacts in the last 3 months should be notified that they may have been exposed to Chlamydia and be advised to get tested.


Symptoms and treatment for kids

  • Sometimes, a baby can catch chlamydia from their mother during birth. This can result in ear and eye infections or pneumonia which is treatable with antibiotics.


Medications

  • Chlamydia can be treated with a 7-day course of doxycycline, or a one-off dose of azithromycin – these are both types of antibiotics. 


How long does chlamydia last?

  • Once chlamydia has been treated, it should disappear after a week.


Should I see a doctor?

  • If you have any symptoms, see a doctor, nurse or sexual health clinic to get tested. 

  • Because chlamydia may not have symptoms, you should get regular STI checks at least once a year if you are sexually active This is particularly true if:

    • you have a new sexual partner

    • you’ve had sexual contact with someone that has had other sexual partners recently

  • Those having sex with multiple partners should have more regular STI tests (every 3 months).


Which specialist should I visit?

  • Your Tend GP can diagnose and treat Chlamydia. If you have complications of Chlamydia or other special circumstances, your Tend GP may refer you to a Sexual Health Clinic, Family Planning, a Gynaecologist or Urologist.


Proactive protection

  • Condoms are one of the best protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like chlamydia. You can use them during vaginal, anal or oral sex to create a barrier.

  • A dam is another type of barrier protection that can be used to cover the female genitals during oral sex, or when rubbing genitals together. It’s essentially a light sheet of latex or soft plastic.

  • It’s best to avoid sharing sex toys, but if you’re going to, be sure to clean them between each new person.


FAQs

  • Can you catch chlamydia more than once?

Yes, that’s why it is important to be regularly tested, especially if you have multiple partners.

  • Can you catch chlamydia from a toilet seat?

No, there is no risk of getting chlamydia or other STIs from a toilet seat.

  • Is there a vaccination for chlamydia?

No, there is no vaccination to prevent chlamydia.


Need to talk to a doctor about chlamydia?

If you have chlamydia symptoms and would like medical advice without needing to leave the house, you can book an online appointment with a Tend doctor through your app.

After the appointment, your doctor may advise that an additional, in-person appointment is required, to ensure you receive complete care. In some cases, we may require this before administering a prescription.

If this is the case, we'll book you for an in-person appointment at a time that suits you, at no extra charge.


Clinically reviewed by: Mataroria Lyndon
Date of review: 24 November 2021