Chlamydia Testing & Treatment

Chlamydia Trachomatis is one of the most common Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) in the UK, accounting for 46.1% of all STIs diagnosed. It is an easily treatable infection and early detection can prevent further complications to you and your partner(s).

Jump to: testing, treatment, symptoms, complications & causes

Testing for Chlamydia

Tested along with Gonorrhoea

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Window Period

14 days after exposure

Sample required

For men: urine sample (please don’t urinate 1-2 hours before your appointment)

For women: (self-taken) high vaginal swab

Time for test results

Express: within 3 hours (upto 4 working days in Leicestershire)

Cost of test

£130 (or £80 if taken with another test)

Do I need a Chlamydia test?

  • you or your partner have any symptoms of Chlamydia
  • you’ve had unprotected sex with a new partner
  • a condom splits while you’re having sex
  • you or your partner have had unprotected sex with other people
  • you think you could have a sexually transmitted infection (STI)
  • a sexual partner tells you they have an STI
  • you’re pregnant or planning a pregnancy

When should I take a Chlamydia test?

If you are experiencing symptoms of Chlamydia or your partner has tested positive for Chlamydia, please get tested without delay. Otherwise, we recommend waiting 14 days after sexual contact to get a Chlamydia test.

Will I need a physical examination?

We will only conduct a physical examination with your informed consent. Those with symptoms are recommended an examination with a male or female (as you prefer) clinician.

How accurate is the Chlamydia test?

The test results are approximately 99% accurate.

Furthermore, our tests can detect the Swedish new variant of Chlamydia Trachomatis (nvCT), which some PCR tests may fail to pick up.

What happens if my Chlamydia test is positive?

If you are tested positive for Chlamydia (i.e. Chlamydia is DETECTED) then we will discuss what it means for you, provide medication to manage the condition and ensure you don’t pass it on to your partner.

You will only need to retest for Chlamydia if your clinician tells you.

Do I have to tell my partner, if I test positive for Chlamydia?

Yes. We will give you all the necessary support in conveying your diagnosis to your partner and getting them tested. We will discuss the risk of passing on the infection and any tests and/or treatment your partner may need.

Treating Chlamydia

Method of treatment

Oral antibiotics

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Length of Treatment:

3 or 7 days

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Further actions:

  1. Abstain from sexual intercourse for 7 days, after beginning treatment
  2. Test & treat your partner(s)
  3. Re-test for Chlamydia, if you are pregnant

Cost of treatment

£30 (or £80 if tested elsewhere)

Can Chlamydia be cured?

Yes. Chlamydia can easily be treated and cured.

How long does the treatment take to work?

The medication starts to work once inside the body, but can take a few days to help any symptoms associated with this infection.

Are there any side effects?

Antibiotics used to treat Chlamydia is very safe but can have side effects. These may include: nausea, stomach cramps/pains, diarrhoea and skin rash on sun exposure.

How effective is the treatment for Chlamydia?

The medication is very effective against Chlamydia.

However, due to overuse of antibiotics worldwide, some infections become resistant to the medication we use. This is why we change the antibiotics and dose, if there is a growing resistance against one type of antibiotic. For the treatment to be most effective, it is very important that you follow the instructions your clinician provides you. Please complete the full course of medication even if you feel better.

When can I have sex again?

Yes. Treatment can begin before receiving results, especially if you are experiencing uncomfortable symptoms. It is really important to have tests before any treatment is commenced so we know if the treatment has worked and whether you need to tell your partner(s) or not.

Does my partner need treatment?

Yes. Chlamydia is a very easy infection to share so we strongly advise that you inform your current partner(s) to be treated and tested. It is also advised that you inform any other sexual partner(s) from the last 6 months that you have the infection, so that these people can get tested and treated. This breaks the chain of infection.

Can I begin treatment before receiving my test results?

Yes. Treatment can begin before receiving results, especially if you are experiencing uncomfortable symptoms. It is really important to have tests before any treatment is commenced so we know if the treatment has worked and whether you need to tell your partner(s) or not.

Do I have to get re-tested after my treatment?

A routine Test of Cure for Chlamydia is not needed. We may, however, recommend a test 4 weeks after starting treatment in the following cases:

  • You are pregnant
  • You are planning a pregnancy
  • You have not taken the medication as directed
  • You have had sexual contact before finishing treatment
  • You have a history of treatment failure
  • Or, your symptoms have not completely gone

As Chlamydia DNA can still be in your body for upto 4 weeks after starting the course of antibiotics, a test of cure done in this period can come back positive. This is why a Test of Cure (TOC) for Chlamydia, when done, is done 4 weeks after starting the course of antibiotics.

Can I get the infection again?

Yes. Getting Chlamydia does not produce an immunity, and therefore does not offer a protection from getting re-infected.

What happens if I don’t get treated?

There is some evidence that the body can finally clear the Chlamydia infection through its immune response in some individuals. However, there is a risk of developing complications and passing the infection to others if you are not treated. You can read about complications of Chlamydia here.

Symptoms

The symptoms of Chlamydia are similar to those of Gonorrhoea, Trichomonas vaginalis and Mycoplasma genitalium.

What are the symptoms of Chlamydia in men?

  • Discomfort in water pipe
  • Irritation in water pipe
  • Painful urination (Dysuria)
  • Pain in testicles
  • Pus-like discharge from urethra
  • “Wetness” at penile tip
  • Less commonly, red spots on the glans (head) of penis (Balanitis)

Homosexual Men with Chlamydia may also experience:

  • Irritation in back passage
  • Mucoid or slimy or blood-stained discharge from the back passage

What are the symptoms of Chlamydia in women?

  • Abnormal discharge
  • Change in discharge
  • Spotting
  • Bleeding after sexual contact (post-coital bleeding)
  • Bleeding between periods (inter-menstrual bleeding)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pain on having sexual intercourse
  • Painful urination (Dysuria)
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
  • Sore throat (with throat infection)
  • Mucoid or slimy or blood-stained discharge from the back passage (with rectal infection)

It is known that some patients with bacterial vaginosis may have an underlying infection (Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea and Trichomonas vaginalis).

The correct diagnosis and treatment of the underlying infection is the best way to manage bacterial vaginosis in such patients. If the underlying cause is not addressed, symptoms of bacterial vaginosis are very likely to return.

    Can I get Chlamydia in the throat?

    Although Chlamydia is primarily a genital infection, it can infect other mucous membranes in the body including the back of throat (pharyngitis). Throat infection with chlamydia is common in both heterosexual women and gay men, and is an important source of onward transmission as many people think that oral sex is low-risk. This is less common in heterosexual men.

    Most patients with throat infection due to chlamydia will have no symptoms, but those who do may complain of something as non-specific as “not feeling right in the throat” to discomfort and pain in the throat.

    Can I get Chlamydia in the rectum?

    Chlamydia infection in the back passage can be seen in those who have receptive anal sex. However sometimes chlamydia infection can be present in the back passage in the women who have not had any anal sex. This can be due to vaginal discharge infected with chlamydia, contaminating the anal area.

    Most patients with anal or rectal chlamydia may have no symptoms or some irritation or itching in the back passage. Mucoid or slimy or blood-stained discharge from the back passage is seen in those with more severe infection.

    LGV (Lymphogranuloma venereum) is a special type of chlamydia infection of the back passage. It is seenly more commonly in gay men, especially those who are HIV positive.

    Can I get Chlamydia in the eye?

    Another mucosal membrane that Chlamydia can infect is the conjunctiva of the eyes. This can be as a result of inoculation from a contaminated finger or from infected semen and/or vaginal fluid.

    Every now and then we see patients who have had some redness, grittiness, stickiness or scanty discharge from the eyes for a few weeks which has not responded to commonly used eye drops. Swabs taken from the eyes confirm a diagnosis of Chlamydia in some of these patients. It is easy to run tests for chlamydia from the eyes, and get the appropriate antibiotics to cure the infection.

    Sometimes newborn babies get chlamydia infection in the eyes at the time of birth when passing through the maternal vaginal canal, and this typically appears as redness, stickiness or discharge from one or both eyes. This usually presents from 5-14 days after birth.

    Complications

    Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

    When Chlamydia spreads to the womb, ovaries and/or fallopian tubes, there is a chance of getting PID. It is important to note that one may have PID without having Chlamydia.

    Fortunately, this condition can be treated with a course of antibiotics and if seen early enough, further complications can be avoided. This may include:

    • Difficulty in getting pregnant (which may progress to infertility)
    • Persistent pelvic pain
    • Greater risk of ectopic pregnancy (i.e. when a fertilised egg is implanted outside of the womb)

     

    Passing Chlamydia onto your child

    If you leave Chlamydia untreated whilst pregnant, then there is a chance of passing it onto your child. This may result in your child developing conjunctivitis (an eye infection) and/or pneumonia (lung infection). The risk of a premature birth also increases (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) and the possibility of your child being born underweight.

    If you are pregnant and/or think you have Chlamydia, please see your sexual health clinician without any delay. Treatment is simple and complications can be avoided.

    In Men & Women: SARA (Sexually Acquired Reactive Arthritis)

    Chlamydia is the most common cause of SARA, which may develop within the first few weeks after getting Chlamydia. Whilst this can affect women, it is much more common in men.

    SARA may cause inflammation of your joints, eyes and/or urethra (from where urine passes out of the body). There is no cure for SARA, but fortunately, most individuals get better within a few months.

    Epididymitis or Epididymo-orchitis

    Chlamydia can cause inflammation of the testicles and epididymis (the tubes carrying sperm from the testicles). This can be very painful but is easily treatable with antibiotics.

    If Chlamydia is further left untreated at this stage, then there is a risk of becoming infertile.

    Causes

    • Unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex
    • Sharing of unclean sex toys (with/without a condom)
    • Very close contact with partners’ genitals
    • Infected semen and/or vaginal fluid in the eye
    • During childbirth from infected mother

    You CANNOT get Chlamydia from the following:

    • Close contact (e.g. kissing and/or hugging)
    • Sharing showers, towels, swimming pools
    • Toilet seats
    • Cutlery

    What can increase my chances of getting Chlamydia?

    • If you have had Chlamydia before
    • If you have a greater number of sexual partners

    How can I prevent getting Chlamydia?

    • Have protected vaginal, oral and anal sex
    • Use a condom, femidom and/or dental dam with a new partner
    • Only use sex toys that you know are clean
    • You and your new partner get tested before having sex
    • Don’t have sex with your partner if they were treated for Chlamydia less than 7 days ago

    Page reviewed by Dr. Manoj Malu (Clinical Director)

    Last reviewed date: 3 March 2020
    Next review due: 3 March 2023

    Whilst this content is written and reviewed by sexual health specialists, it is for general guidance only. It is not intended to replace the advice of your clinician.

    If you think you may have Chlamydia

    It is important to refer to a healthcare provider as soon as possible. Our experience combined with timely detection can help put you on the right track without delay and avoid complications in the future.