STI of the Day: Chlamydia

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It's sexual health week! So, we will be giving you the low down on a different STI every day. Because healthy sex is awesome sex...

The male and female condom
Today's lucky STI under the spotlight is chlamydia. The poster boy of sexually transmitted diseases for a generation - chlamydia is one of the most common STIs that can affect both men and women. 

Hot facts

It is the most common STI in the UK.

Around 1 in 10 people under 25 tested for chlamydia are positive.

Screening has recently showed that in some parts of Britain, 10-20% of young adults have it.

Most people who have chlamydia don't realise they're infected.

It can cause health problems such as infertility in both boys and girls if left untreated.

Word on the street is...

The clam, gooey stuff, rooster crow, grape fruit, snow pie

The clap is used but that is technically the slang name for gonorrhoea. 

What is it and how d'ya catch it? 

Chlamydia is caused by a type of bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis and can go undetected for a long time.

It is easily passed on through unprotected sex and sharing sex toys.

You can have chlamydia if you've only had unprotected sex once.

Who can get it?

Both men and women. 

Symptoms

There's often no symptoms to alert you - which is why it's referred to as the silent infection.

Ladies - you may experience an abnormal vaginal discharge and bleeding (not in your period), pain when you pee including having bladder infections such as cystitis, and lower back pain.

Men - you may develop discharge from the penis and pain during urination within 1 to 3 weeks of having sex with an infected partner.

Effects 

If left untreated, it can lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) which can lead to infertility and tubal (ectopic) pregnancy.

Babies born to infected women can develop eye or lung infections.

For men, it can spread to the testicles and cause discomfort and pain.

It can also lead to increased risk of infection of other STDs, including HIV.

Testing

You should get tested for chlamydia once a year as routine, or every time you change partners to ensure they are not infected.

Testing is not carried out routinely when you have a smear test.

You can get tested at your local GP or use any sexual health service (such as a family planning clinic, an STI clinic or GUM centre).

Testing is confidential and you don't have to see your GP first if you go to a clinic.

Also check your local pharmacies as some provide free chlamydia testing kits. If you are under 24, you can also get a few postal test in some areas from freetest.me.uk

Testing is pain free and simple. Usually it is just a urine test or a swab (basically a cotton bud) used to get a sample of cells from the vagina or penis.

Easy!

Treatment 

Oral antibiotics cure the infection. If you caught it from a regular partner, both of you must be treated at the same time in order to prevent passing it backwards and forwards.

If you test positive, you need to let anyone know that you have had sex with in the last 3-6 months so they can also be treated.

Yes, it may be embarrassing or upsetting - but an infection can lead to serious health problems, so although no one can force you to let past partners know - it's the right thing to do.

Your sexual health service can arrange a contact slip for you which can be given to your partners anonymously. The slip explains they may have been exposed but keeps your details confidential.

Prevention is better than a cure

In order to prevent catching chlamydia - use a condom when having vaginal, oral or anal sex.

Make sure you wash sex toys using warm water and anti-bacterial wash after each use. Avoid sharing toys with other people. Make them get their own.

Tune in tomorrow for our next exciting instalment of STI of the day! 
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