There are three areas of the body where Chlamydia usually happens – the bottom, throat, penis or vagina.
The reason why Chlamydia is so common is probably due to the fact it’s really easy to pick up. It is usually passed on through unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex, rimming or sharing toys, but it can also be passed on from a parent to baby during birth or even by close body contact.
Another reason why Chlamydia is so common is because it’s very difficult to spot. Symptoms can be very mild or may not show up for weeks, so you could have the infection without knowing it. In fact, 50% of men and 70% of women with Chlamydia show no symptoms at all. For those who do get symptoms, signs of infection may include any of the following:
- An unusual discharge from the penis, vagina or bottom
- Pain when urinating
- Bleeding between periods
- Testicular pain or swelling
- Pain during sex
- Low abdominal pain
There are two ways of testing for Chlamydia depending on where the infection is suspected to be:
1. Urine test – a specimen of your urine is tested for signs of the infection. This test can only identify Chlamydia in the urethra (the tube that runs down the penis) or the vagina.
2. Swab test – a swab (basically a very small cotton bud) is taken from the area that might be infected and checked for the infection. This test is much more in-depth than the urine test and can tell you exactly where the infection is.
Thankfully, treating Chlamydia is fairly simple with a short course of antibiotics. After treatment, another test will be done to make sure the infection has completely gone. It is important to avoid having sex until you get the ‘all clear’. Otherwise, as well as passing on the infection to people you have sex with, you’ll also keep on re-infecting yourself. It’s also important for your sexual partners to get checked too. If you’re a bit embarrassed about doing this or are finding it difficult to get in touch with your partners, the clinic where you get tested can help. They can contact people on your behalf and let them know without giving your name.
How to avoid it
Avoiding Chlamydia altogether is quite difficult, unless you stop having sex completely, but if you use condoms and dental dams for oral sex and rimming, and condoms with loads of water-based lube for anal or vaginal sex, you might be able to stop the infection from being passed on. To avoid re-infection, sexual partners should also be checked and treated if necessary.