Chlamydia: A Guide to Understanding and Managing the Infection
Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can have serious health consequences if left untreated. In recent years, the rates of chlamydia have been increasing in many communities worldwide, including the UK. It is essential to be aware of this trend and take necessary precautions to protect yourself and your sexual partners.
What is Chlamydia?
Chlamydia is caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. It can infect the genitals, rectum, and throat. Most people infected with chlamydia do not experience any symptoms, making it easy to unknowingly transmit the infection to others. When symptoms do occur, they can include pain or a burning sensation while urinating, abnormal discharge from the genitals, and pain or bleeding during sex.
How is Chlamydia Spread?
Chlamydia is primarily spread through unprotected sexual contact, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex. It can be transmitted even if penetration or ejaculation does not occur. Pregnant individuals with chlamydia can also pass the infection to their babies during childbirth.
How Can I Prevent Chlamydia?
Practicing safe sex is crucial for preventing chlamydia and other STIs. Here are some steps you can take:
- Use condoms consistently and correctly during sexual activity, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex.
- Get tested for STIs regularly, especially if you have multiple sexual partners or engage in high-risk sexual behaviour.
- Encourage your partner(s) to get tested for chlamydia and other STIs.
- If you’re unsure about your partner’s STI status, consider delaying sexual activity until both of you have been tested and cleared.
- Limit your number of sexual partners to reduce the risk of exposure to STIs.
How Can I Get Tested for Chlamydia?
You can get tested for gonorrhoea for free at Unity Sexual Health, your local community clinics, pick up test kits from pharmacies or tested at your GP. You can order a home testing kit for free from Unity here. If you have symptoms, you can call the main Unity Central Booking line on 01173426900.
If I Test Positive for Chlamydia, What Happens Next?
If your test results confirm a chlamydia infection, it’s important to seek treatment promptly. Here’s what you should do:
- Contact the service where you were tested to discuss your results.
- A doctor will prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. It is crucial to take the full course of antibiotics as directed, even if symptoms improve or disappear, and follow all instructions around behaviour during treatment.
- Inform your current and recent sexual partners about your diagnosis, so they can get tested and receive treatment if necessary. This helps prevent reinfection and the spread of chlamydia.
Partner Notification for Chlamydia
If you test positive for chlamydia, it is important to notify your sexual partners so that they can get tested and treated as well. You can do this face to face, by calling them directly, sending them an email, messaging them on social media or by sending a text message. You can also ask the Health Advisers to help you notify your partners.
It is important to be honest with your partners about your diagnosis. It is important to remember that they have a right to know so that they can get the care they need.
Here are some tips for talking to your partners about your diagnosis:
- Be honest and direct.
- Tell your partners when you were last tested and what the results were.
- Let your partners know that they can get tested for free at a sexual health clinic or their GP.
- Offer to help your partners get tested.
- Be patient and understanding. Try not to worry about how they may take the news; it is important to remember that they have a right to know so that they can get the care they need.
- Remember you are looking out for their health and doing the right thing by informing them
Click here to download a detailed leaflet on Chlamydia