Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted bacterial infection. The Center for Disease Control and the New York State Health Department report it is the number one communicable disease reported.
Where does Chlamydia infect you?
- It is found in vaginal secretions in women and semen in men.
- Both men and women can become infected with Chlamydia in their throats and rectum.
What are the Symptoms?
In half of all cases there are no symptoms
- Symptoms in women include vaginal discharge, pain with sex, burning with urination or irregular spotting/bleeding
- Symptoms in men include penile discharge and pain with urination, and uncommonly pain in the scrotum or testis
- Chlamydia infections in the throat or rectum often have few if any symptoms
What is the Risk?
- Chlamydia does not discriminate by income or social status
- A person acquires Chlamydia by having sex with someone who is infected.
- There is a 7-14 day period after exposure before a person who has been exposed tests positive.
- A person who has Chlamydia once can easily become infected again if re-exposed.
- Infected Mothers can pass Chlamydia to their newborns during birth
Untreated Chlamydia in women can cause a pelvic infection known as (PID), which can lead to permanent infertility and greater risk of a tubal pregnancy. In men it can lead to epididymitis.
How do you protect yourself from infection?
- The only 100% way to prevent getting Chlamydia is to be abstinent and not have sex
- The second best way is to use a male or female condom with every act of sex
- The third best way is to get screened and tested with your partner and make sure both are negative before having sex
How often should people be tested for Chlamydia?
- Sexually active women aged 25 and under should get tested every year
- Women and men at increased risk because of multiple partners, and men who have sex with men should also be tested routinely.
What’s involved in the Screening Test?
- Men and women can easily be screened by a urine sample. It is most accurate if you have waited at least one hour since your last void
- A swab test of your throat or anus will detect Chlamydia infection if you are at risk (ask your provider to let you self collect your own rectal swab since research shows this is more accurate).
- Women can also be screened with a vaginal swab.
What’s the Treatment?
- Chlamydia is easily treated with one dose of the antibiotic Zithromax. (If you are allergic you will be prescribed doxycycline twice a day for 7 days.)
- Your partner(s ) will also need to be treated
- The CDC recommends any and all partners in the past 60 days be treated whether or not they test positive for Chlamydia
- You must wait to have sex for 7 days so you do not re-infect each other
New York State permits your provider to give you a script or medicine to treat your partner (s) for Chlamydia if you know your partner won’t get treated. This program is called Expedited Partner Therapy.
Make an Appointment for Treatment
Three months after treatment it is recommended that you get retested to make sure your infection has resolved
If you are positive for Chlamydia we recommend that you be tested for other STD’s and HIV
Heymann, D. (2004) Control of Communicable Disease Manual 18th Edition, American Public Health Association.
MMWR (2015) Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines, 64 (3) US department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.