Chlamydia can be cured with a course of antibiotics. It’s important to get tested regularly and treated quickly to avoid long-term complications.
Chlamydia spreads through unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex. The bacteria also transfer through semen. Women who have chlamydia can give it to their newborn babies.
Untreated chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease and scarring that interferes with fertility. In men, chlamydia can spread to the tube that carries sperm to the testicles (epididymitis).
Can you get reinfected?
Generally, if you have protected sex (using condoms for vaginal and anal sex or a sperm barrier cream or gel) then you cannot get re-infected with chlamydia. However, if you have genital to genital contact, or oral sex without using a condom, you could pass the infection on to your sexual partner. You also have a risk of getting re-infected if your sex partner hasn’t been treated or if you had unprotected sex before you got treatment.
Leaving a chlamydia infection untreated can lead to serious health problems. For example, in women it can spread to the uterus and fallopian tubes, causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID can cause long-term pelvic pain, difficulty becoming pregnant and a higher chance of ectopic pregnancy. It can also cause permanent scarring of the uterus and tubes which could prevent future pregnancies.
If you get chlamydia, you should never have non-protected sex again until after you finish your antibiotics. You should also let your sexual partners know that you have chlamydia and ask them to get tested and treated, if they haven’t already been. If they have been infected, they will need to take a course of antibiotics too. There are nurse-led services called ‘partner notification officers’, who can help you to anonymously notify your sexual partners. You can find details of these in your local area by contacting your GP practice or a sexual health centre.
Can you get a repeat infection?
If you get chlamydia again it can cause serious complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID damages your reproductive organs and can lead to long-term pain, infertility and pregnancy outside of the uterus.
Chlamydia is spread through vaginal, oral and anal sex. It is the most common STI and most sexually active people don’t show any early symptoms. This is why it’s so important to have all sexually active people screened for chlamydia. You can ask your GP for an STI test, or contact your local sexual health clinic to have an appointment.
Antibiotic treatment will clear chlamydia infection but you shouldn’t have sex until seven days after your antibiotic course ends. This means using barrier protection such as a condom for vaginal, anal and oral sex.
It’s a good idea to tell all your sexual partners that you have had chlamydia and recommend that they get tested and treated too. If you don’t want to talk to them personally you can use the Department of Health’s Let Them Know website to notify them anonymously. You can also ask your GP for extra chlamydia medication to give to your partner(s) so they can treat themselves. This is called patient delivered partner therapy (PDPT). It’s very effective at getting the infections treated. You can also practise safer sex by using condoms with water-based lubricant for all types of sex.
Can you get a scar?
Chlamydia causes very little or no symptoms in most people and is often only found with a pelvic swab or a blood test. It can, however, spread if it is not treated and can cause serious long-term health problems – especially in women. Without treatment, chlamydia can lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), which can lead to a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. It can also cause an abnormal vaginal discharge or pain. In men, chlamydia can spread to the epididymis (the tubes that carry sperm out of the testicles), leading to painful and swollen scrotum or epididymitis. It can also spread to the urethra, causing inflammation of the urethra or bladder (urethritis). Chlamydia can cause a condition called reactive arthritis, which is a group of conditions that can affect any joint in your body.
Chlamydia can be very easily treated with antibiotics and usually only a single course of antibiotics is needed. You and your partner should avoid sex until you have finished the course of antibiotics and at least seven days after your last dose. This includes oral, anal and vaginal sex.
If you get chlamydia, it is recommended that you tell all of your anal, vaginal and oral sex partners about it. Your doctor or sexual health centre can help you with this. They can give you a form that you can pass on to your sex partners so they can be tested and treated, or they can contact government health services for you so that your partners are informed and can be anonymously traced. This process is called ‘contact tracing’.
Can you get pregnant?
Chlamydia is highly treatable and cured with antibiotics. Once your infection clears up you will not be able to get pregnant from this STI. You will need to completely stop all sex (including anal sex) until seven days have passed since the end of your treatment. You should also use a condom during sexual activity.
Condoms can reduce the risk of chlamydia passing from one person to another, but they are not foolproof. If your sex partner has been infected with chlamydia before and you have had some genital to genital contact with them or have had oral or anal sex without using a condom then there is a high chance that they could pass it on to you.
If you have had a chlamydia infection in the past then it is important that you get tested and treated again. This is because chlamydia is very easily spread between people that have unprotected sex. This includes vaginal, anal or oral sex and if you are in a relationship then this includes ejaculate (cum).
If left untreated then chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women. This can lead to pain in the lower abdomen, a harder time becoming pregnant or a higher risk of ectopic pregnancy and it can damage the fallopian tubes or the uterus. In men chlamydia can also spread to the tube that carries sperm from the testicles (the epididymis) and can cause symptoms like pain and swollen or tender testicles.