Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that is passed on from one person to another through unprotected sex. It is particularly common in teenagers and young adults.
Symptoms of Chlamydia
Most people with chlamydia do not have any symptoms. However, when symptoms do occur, they usually appear one to three weeks after having unprotected sex with an infected person. Symptoms usually manifest as pain when urinating and unusual discharge from the penis, vagina or rectum. Gender specific symptoms include testicular pain and swelling in men and pain in the abdomen, bleeding during or after sex, heavier menstrual periods and bleeding in between menstrual periods in women. Sometimes the syptome of chlamydia disappear after a few days. However, the infection may still be present and treatment may still be needed.
Treatment for Chlamydia
Chlamydia is usually treated with a course of antibiotics. The two most commonly prescribed antibiotics are azithromycin, which is given as two to four tablets taken once, and doxycycline, which is given as two capsules a day for seven days. A longer course of antibiotics may be prescribed if there is a high risk of complications. Most people who take antibiotics for chlamydia have no symptoms from treatment. However, some people experience side effects such as abdominal pain, nausea and diarrhoea. These side effects are usually mild and resolve themselves without treatment.
It is important to abstain from sex until after treatment for chlamydia. This will help ensure that the infection is not passed on. Most people who receive treatment do not need to return to their doctor after treatment. However, it may be advisable to return for another chlamydia test if the symptoms of chlamydia do not go away. Teenagers and young adults may be offered a repeat test for chlamydia three months after finishing treatment because they are at a higher risk of catching it again.
If chlamydia is not treated properly, it can spread and cause potentially serious complications. In men, chlamydia can spread to the tubes that carry sperm from the testicles, called the epididymis, causing them to become swollen and painful. This is known as epididymitis. Left untreated, epididymitis can lead to infertility. In women, chlamydia can spread to the ovaries, uterus and/or fallopian tubes, causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Left untreated, PID can cause infertility and chronic pelvic pain. Chlamydia can also cause sexually acquired reactive arthritis. This is where the eyes, joints and/or urethra become inflamed.