What you need to know and what to do
Think you have chlamydia but aren’t sure? You’re not alone. People who have chlamydia often don’t experience any symptoms, which means you can be carrying it without even knowing.
How do you know if you have chlamydia? And what should you do, if you do have it? Read on for more about chlamydia, symptoms and treatment.
What is chlamydia and how do you get it?
One of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs), chlamydia is a bacterial infection that’s transmitted through vaginal, anal and oral sex with a partner who is carrying the bacteria. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, the rates of reported cases of chlamydia have risen steadily since 1997.
If you’ve gotten chlamydia, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. It means you’re having sex, which most adults do! It also means that at some point you’ve had unprotected sex. And since symptoms sometimes don’t show up, it’s possible your partner didn’t even know he or she was infected.
What are the symptoms of chlamydia?
When symptoms present, they appear on the infected areas of the body. Symptoms include:
● pain and/or discharge in the vagina, anus, throat, testicles, penis or eyes
● an urge to urinate more often than usual
● pain or burning during urination
● pain or bleeding during or after intercourse
● lumps and bumps around your genitalia
● fever (less common)
Get tested, and repeat
The only way to know if you have chlamydia is to get tested. Left untreated, chlamydia can cause serious future health problems and also lead to infertility, so it’s important to get tested.
You should test:
● if you have any symptoms
● every time you enter or exit a relationship
● every two to three years if you are in a stable relationship
To test for chlamydia, your doctor will swab all sites where you have sex (the vagina, anus and/or throat), to ensure the infection doesn’t get missed. Be sure to ask your doctor about testing for other infections which you could have acquired at the same time as well: Gonorrhea, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV.
Your current or future partner should also get tested. If you’re in a steady relationship and have tested positive, check your current partner’s last test to try to figure out when he or she was infected. They may have had chlamydia for years without knowing. The “window” for acquiring chlamydia is between the last negative test and a positive test.
If you experience any symptoms that don't seem to go away, always consult your doctor.
How do you treat chlamydia?
Chlamydia is treated with antibiotics, and you should see your healthcare provider for this as soon as possible. Early treatment is important to stop ongoing transmission; prevent the spread of the bacteria to other parts of your body such as the liver, womb and lymph nodes; prevent scarring which can cause chronic pain even after the infection is gone; and prevent infertility.
While getting treated, avoid all sexual contact:
● throughout your course of antibiotics
● until your partner(s) have gotten tested and treated
● until your symptoms have completely gone away
If you did not experience any symptoms, wait three to six days before you resume sexual activity with your partner(s). It’s also crucial that your partner(s) has a confirmed negative test before resuming sexual contact.
You are cured IF you:
· have completed your course of antibiotics
· have no symptoms
· have waited three to six days
Unless your doctor asks you to, you generally don’t need to repeat the test after treatment to prove it’s worked. In certain special cases, your doctor will tell you if you need a repeat “test of cure.”
How can I prevent getting chlamydia?
Using condoms, and ensuring you and your partner(s) are free of STIs, are your best forms of protection against chlamydia or less treatable infections like HIV. Also, if you see a rash, don’t touch it! Check with your doctor right away.
In addition to protecting yourself from STIs, we also encourage you to think about protecting yourself from pregnancy. Condoms, the pull-out method and diaphragms just won’t do the trick.
If you find yourself carrying an unwanted pregnancy, contact us.