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Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the UK.
It's passed on from one person to another through unprotected sex (sex without a condom) and is particularly common in sexually active teenagers and young adults.
If you live in England, are under 25 and are sexually active, it's recommended that you get tested for chlamydia every year or when you change your sexual partner.
In 2013, more than 200,000 people tested positive for chlamydia in England. Almost 7 in every 10 people diagnosed with the condition were under 25 years old.
Most people with chlamydia don't notice any symptoms and don't know they have it.
If you do get symptoms, these usually appear between 1 and 3 weeks after having unprotected sex with an infected person. For some people, symptoms might start after many months.
Sometimes the symptoms can disappear after a few days. Even if the symptoms disappear you may still have the infection and be able to pass it on.
At least 70% of women with chlamydia don't notice any symptoms. If they do get symptoms, the most common include:- pain when urinating
If chlamydia is not treated, it can spread to the womb and cause a serious condition called Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). This is a major cause of ectopic pregnancy and infertility in women.
At least half of all men with chlamydia don't notice any symptoms. If they do get symptoms, the most common include:- pain when passing urine
If chlamydia is not treated, the infection can cause swelling in the epididymis (the tubes that carry sperm from the testicles) and the testicles. This could affect your fertility.
Chlamydia can also infect:- the rectum (back passage) if you have unprotected anal sex – this can cause discomfort and discharge from your rectum
Chlamydia is a bacterial infection. The bacteria are usually spread through sex or contact with infected genital fluids (semen or vaginal fluid).
You can get chlamydia through:- unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex
It can also be passed by a pregnant woman to her baby.
Chlamydia can't be passed on through casual contact, such as kissing and hugging, or from sharing baths, towels, swimming pools, toilet seats or cutlery.
Although chlamydia doesn't usually cause any symptoms and can normally be treated with a short course of antibiotics, it can be serious if it's not treated early on.
If it's not treated, the infection can spread to other parts of your body and lead to long-term health problems, such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), epididymo-orchitis (inflammation of the testicles), and infertility. It can also sometimes cause reactive arthritis where your joints become sore and swollen.
This is why it's important to get tested and treated as soon as possible if you think you might have chlamydia.
Testing for chlamydia is done with a urine test or a swab test. You don't always need a physical examination by a nurse or doctor.
Chlamydia can usually be treated easily with antibiotics. You may be given some tablets to take all on one day, or a longer course of capsules to take for a week.
You shouldn't have sex until you and your current sexual partner have finished your treatment. If you had the one-day course of treatment, you should avoid having sex for a week afterwards.
It's important that your current sexual partner and any other sexual partners you've had during the last six months are also tested and treated to help stop the spread of the infection.
The NCSP recommends that under 25s who have chlamydia should be offered another test around three months after being treated. This is because young adults who test positive for chlamydia are at increased risk of catching it again.
Anyone who is sexually active can catch chlamydia. You're most at risk if you have a new sexual partner or don't use a barrier method of contraception, such as a condom, when having sex.
You can help to prevent the spread of chlamydia by:- using a condom every time you have vaginal or anal sex
If you do share sex toys, wash them or cover them with a new condom between each person who uses them.