Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by bacteria. Chlamydia is spread during oral, vaginal, or anal sex. The infection most often affects the urethra, rectum, or throat. The urethra is the tube that carries urine from your bladder to the outside of your body. Anyone with multiple sex partners is at higher risk for chlamydia. Your risk is also increased if you have another STI, such as gonorrhea.
What are the signs and symptoms of chlamydia?
- Vaginal redness or itching
- Thick, yellow-green discharge coming from your penis, rectum, or vagina
- Feeling like you need to urinate more often than usual
- Pain or burning when you urinate
- Pain when you have sex
- Pain in your lower abdomen, penis, or vagina.
- Sore throat or swollen lymph nodes in your neck
How is chlamydia diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider will ask you questions about your health and sexual history. He or she will need to know when your symptoms started. Tell your provider about any STIs you or your partner may have. You may need any of the following:
- Blood or urine tests may show the bacteria that causes chlamydia.
- A sample of discharge may help providers know what treatment is best for you.
How is chlamydia treated?
Antibiotics help treat the infection caused by bacteria. Both you and your sex partner need treatment to prevent chlamydia from spreading.
How can I prevent the spread of chlamydia and other STIs?
Ask your healthcare provider for more information about the following safe sex practices:
- Use a male or female condom during sex. This includes oral, genital, or anal sex. Use a new condom each time. Condoms help prevent pregnancy and STIs. Use latex condoms, if possible. Lambskin (also called sheepskin or natural membrane) condoms do not protect against STIs. A polyurethane condom can be used if you or your partner is allergic to latex. Condoms should be used with a second form of birth control to help prevent pregnancy and STIs. Do not use male and female condoms together. Ask for more information about the correct way to use condoms.
- Limit your number of sex partners. This will help lower your risk for chlamydia and other STIs.
- Do not have sex with someone who has an STI. This includes oral, vaginal, and anal sex.
- Do not have sex while you or your partner are being treated. Ask when it is safe to have sex.
- Ask about medicines to lower your risk for some STIs:
- Vaccines can help protect you from hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and the human papillomavirus (HPV). The HPV vaccine is usually given at 11 years, but it may be given through 26 years to both females and males. Your provider can give you more information on vaccines to prevent STIs.
- Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) may be given if you are at high risk for HIV. PrEP is taken every day to prevent the virus from fully infecting the body.
- If you are a woman:
- Do not douche. Douching upsets the normal balance of bacteria found in your vagina. It does not prevent or clear up vaginal infections.
- Tell your healthcare provider if you are pregnant. Gonorrhea can be passed to an infant during birth.
When should I call my doctor?
- You have a fever.
- You have nausea or you cannot stop vomiting.
- You have severe abdominal pain.
- Your signs or symptoms last longer than 1 week or get worse during treatment.
- Your signs or symptoms return after treatment.
- You have pain during sex.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.