Chlamydia is caused by a bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis - it can be transmitted through oral, anal and vaginal sex as well as skin to skin contact.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the world, with around 2.86 million infections occurring annually. With that in mind, it's easy to understand why there’s an abundance of questions surrounding it - so, what is Chlamydia? Read on for everything you need to know.
What are the symptoms of chlamydia?
Chlamydia is sometimes referred to as the ‘silent’ infection as it often doesn’t bring about symptoms  - This can cause a false sense of security and can lead to some complications if the infection isn’t detected.
What are the first signs of chlamydia?
Chlamydia symptoms in women
Abnormal vaginal discharge
Abnormal vaginal bleeding with intercourse or between periods
Irregular menstrual bleeding
Lower abdominal (belly) pain
Fever and general tiredness
Swollen and painful glands at the opening of the vagina (Bartholin glands)
Pain during sex
Chlamydia symptoms in men
Pain the testicles
Feeling ill or feverish
Can chlamydia symptoms appear the next day?
The time between exposure to Chlamydia and the start of symptoms may range from days to months. If symptoms appear, it’s usually 1 to 3 weeks after sexual contact with someone carrying the infection .
How serious is chlamydia?
While both sexually active men and women can get chlamydia, some of the most common health complications associated with chlamydia more commonly affect women.
The infection doesn’t cause long-term problems if it’s diagnosed and treated early. However, untreated Chlamydia can lead to many health complications, especially in women .
These complications include:
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
Pelvic inflammatory disease is an infection of the organs of a woman’s reproductive system. The disease causes blockages of the fallopian tubes, scarring, and adhesions.
PID is a major cause of ectopic pregnancy  - When this happens, scar tissue prevents the fertilized egg from moving through the fallopian tube for implantation. Ectopic pregnancies can cause life-threatening bleeding and require emergency treatment.
If left untreated, the damage caused by PID to a woman’s reproductive system can leave the woman infertile - this is why it’s so important to get tested regularly.
Chronic pelvic pain
This is a chronic dull, aching or stabbing, sharp pain in the pelvic area. It can seriously affect the woman’s quality of life and is yet another reason to get tested regularly for Chlamydia infection.
See also: Does Chlamydia Cause Long-term Damage?
How is chlamydia diagnosed?
Chlamydia diagnosis relies upon a laboratory test.
One testing method is a urine test - this can identify the bacteria in your urethra. You can visit your family doctor or local sexual health clinic to take this test or alternatively you can take the test from home.
Can chlamydia be detected by a blood test?
The best way to test for Chlamydia with a urine test or a swab, not a blood test.
Can chlamydia be treated?
Can chlamydia go away on its own?
If you receive a Chlamydia diagnosis, don’t panic; it can be treated! In fact, Chlamydia is very simple and easy to treat - but it won’t go away on its own.
The treatment for Chlamydia involves a once-off course of antibiotics. If the infection is more complex, for example, if a woman has pelvic pain or if the infection is found in the throat or the anal region, a more extensive course of antibiotics may be required.
Learn More About Chlamydia with Dr. Dominic Rowley:
Written by Hannah Kingston | Approved by Medical Director Dominic Rowley