Also known as: Chlamydial infection
If you’re sexually active, it pays to get regular check-ups.
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
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, 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.
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.
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.
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