What is it?

Chlamydia is caused by a type of bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis and it is the most common bacterial sexually transmitted infection in the UK with 229,411 cases in 2019.

If found and treated early, it is relatively easy to treat. However, can lead to serious long-term health problems if left untreated such as infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and low abdominal pain caused by pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women. In men, chlamydia can cause painful, swollen testicles (epididymo-orchitis)

How do I get it?

Chlamydia is typically passed on from one person to another during unprotected sex – this includes vaginal, oral and anal sex. Your genitals coming into contact with your partner's genitals – this means you can get chlamydia from someone even if there's no penetration, orgasm or ejaculation. You can also catch it from sharing sex toys that are not washed or covered with a new condom each time they're used. It can also be passed by a pregnant woman to her baby.

Chlamydia is NOT spread from sharing food or drinks, kissing, hugging, holding hands, coughing, sneezing, or sitting on the toilet.

Most people don't experience any or very mild symptoms, so they are unaware they're infected. If you do notice symptoms, they can appear between 1-3 weeks after coming into contact with chlamydia. 

Possible symptoms if you have a vulva

  • pain or a burning sensation when urinating

  • an unusual vaginal discharge

  • pain in the lower abdomen during or after sex

  • bleeding during or after sex or between periods

Possible symptoms if you have a penis 

  • pain or a burning sensation when urinating

  • a white, cloudy or watery discharge from the tip of the penis

  • pain or tenderness in the testicles.

It's also possible to have a chlamydia infection in your rectum (bottom), throat or eyes.

Chlamydia tests are carried out by taking swabs from the penis, vagina, bum or throat. A urine sample can also be used with men. The sexual health clinic will recommend the best test for you depending on whether you have any symptoms, what they are and the type of sex you have.

If you have no symptoms and want a straightforward test you can order a smart kit online for home delivery. This is a quick, easy and confidential way to screen for chlamydia, gonorrhoea, HIV and syphilis.

The infection is easily treated with antibiotics. 

You should not have sex until you and your current sexual partner have finished treatment.

  • Use condoms every time you have vaginal or anal sex. 

  • If you have oral sex, use a condom to cover the penis, or a dam (latex or plastic square) to cover the vulva or anus.

  • Avoid sharing sex toys, if you do share them wash them or cover them with a new condom before anyone else uses them.