Cause– It is caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis and is transmitted through semen, vaginal fluids, and rectal fluids during unprotected vaginal, oral, or anal sex.
Symptoms– People often do not show symptoms of chlamydia (especially women). If symptoms do develop, it may take 14-21 days after sexual contact before they appear. It is important to know that even if someone doesnâ€™t show any symptoms, they can still pass the infection to someone else.
- A change in vaginal fluid
- Vaginal bleeding after sex, spotting between periods, or more painful periods
- Pain during intercourse
- Pain in the lower stomach
- Burning or pain when urinating
- Unusual fluid from the penis
- Itchy feeling inside the penis
- Pain and/or swelling in the testicles
- Rectal bleeding or pus
Complications: If treatment is started early, chlamydia does NOT usually cause long term problems. But if left untreated, serious complications can occur including:
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease- A serious infection that can lead to infertility, difficulty getting pregnant, ectopic pregnancies, or ongoing pelvic pain
- Epididymitis: Infection of the testicles that can lead to infertility or make it difficult to get pregnant.
- Increased chance of getting HIV
Testing: Most test results are accurate 2-3 weeks after a person comes in contact with chlamydia. This means that if you are tested before 2 weeks, you could get a false negative result and the infection could go undetected.
- Males: Urine and sometimes a swab is taken from the throat, penis, and rectum
- Women: Urine and sometimes a swab from the cervix or vagina.
Health Care Providers will often test for multiple STIs. Results usually come back in 2-10 days. While waiting for results, you should use condoms.
Treatment: Antibiotic pills. It is important to take the medications exactly as prescribed and take ALL the pills, even if you start to feel better. You should not have vaginal, oral, or anal sex for 7 days after you or your partner starts the antibiotics.
You will be asked about who you have had sex with in the past two months. This is because chlamydia is a reportable infection. Anyone you have had sex will need to be tested and treated. Partners are almost always given medication whether they have symptoms or not.
British Colombia CDC Smart Sex Resource on Chlamydia
The Womenâ€™s Resource Center offers a variety of barrier contraceptive measures for free!