Chlamydia FAQs

Chlamydia is the most common STI but it's not trivial. Untreated it can cause infertility.
What is it?

Chlmaydia is the most common STIs in the UK and is passed from person to person through sex. It often has no symptoms, especially in men, so you can easily get it without knowing.

What are the main symptoms?

When symptoms do occur in men it can cause;

  • Discharge from the tip of the penis.
  • Pain when passing urine.
  • Burning and itching in the genital area.
  • Infection of the back passage (rectum) may produce a discharge from the anus and inflammation of the rectum (proctitis).
  • Symptoms may be very mild or last only a few days. 
What causes it?

It is caused by a bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis. It is most often caught by having sex with someone who is already infected but can also be caught through oral sex.

How do I prevent it?

Wearing a condom is very effective. Because Chlamydia often has no symptoms it is important to have regular check ups. You can get tested at a GUM clinic or your GP centre.

How is it diagnosed?

Getting tested for chlamydia is simple and painless. You can either be tested by a urine test or by swab round the end of the urethra (the hole which you pee out of). It is slightly uncomfortable but completely pain free.

How is it treated?

It is usually treated by one of two antibiotics

  • azithromycin (single dose)
  • doxycycline (a longer course, usually two capsules a day for a week)
What happens if I don't get treatment?

Left untreated, chlamydial infection can lead to:

  • epididymitis, which can compromise fertility
  • joint inflammation
  • and if you pass chlamydia on to a woman, it greatly increases her risk of developing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), a potentially serious condition that can cause infertility, pelvic pain and ectopic pregnancy (where a foetus develops outside of the womb).
What's the outlook?

If you get treatment, very good.


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Date published 08/04/14
Date of last review 08/04/14
Date of next review 07/04/17


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