What is chlamydial infection?
Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted disease or infection (also called an STD or STI).
The infection can affect many parts of the body, but usually the bacteria infect the urethra. The urethra is the tube that carries urine and semen out of the penis. Chlamydia may also infect the epididymis or the prostate gland. The epididymis is a coiled tube attached to the testicle. It stores and carries sperm. The prostate is a gland located between the bladder and the penis. The anus and rectum may be infected if you have anal sex. Oral sex may infect the throat.
Chlamydia can cause infertility, which means you may have trouble getting your partner pregnant. The risk is greatest if you have an infection for weeks or months without treatment. Also, if you have chlamydia and then have unsafe sex with someone who has HIV, you are more likely to be infected with HIV.
What is the cause?
The infection is caused by bacteria called Chlamydia. It is usually passed from person to person during oral, vaginal, or anal sex.
What are the symptoms?
Most people who are infected do not have any symptoms. This means you can pass the infection to your sexual partner without knowing that you are infected.
Symptoms may include:
- Discharge from the penis
- Burning or other discomfort when you urinate
- Pain in your testicles
- Pain during or after sex
- Lower back pain
- Irritation around the anus
- Pain when you have a bowel movement
- Sore throat if your throat gets infected
Sometimes infections of the prostate or epididymis are sudden and severe. These infections may cause fever or other symptoms of illness, such as headache, back pain, or muscle aches. Sudden illness with fever needs prompt medical care.
How is it diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and sexual and medical history and examine you. Tests may include:
- Test of fluid from the opening of the urethra
- Urine test
- Test of the skin area around the anus
How is it treated?
Chlamydia is treated with antibiotic medicine. You may need to take more than 1 antibiotic.
Symptoms are usually gone 1 to 4 weeks after you start taking the antibiotic. If you keep having symptoms even though you are taking an antibiotic, tell your healthcare provider. Also tell your provider if any symptoms come back after you finish taking the antibiotic.
You will be asked about your sexual partner(s). Your infection will be reported to the local health department and your sexual partner(s) will be told that they have had contact with someone who has a sexually transmitted infection. (Your name will not be given.) This will help them get prompt treatment for the infection. It can also help prevent new infections.
You should get checked again 3 months after treatment to make sure the infection is gone.
How can I take care of myself?
- Take your medicine for as long as your healthcare provider prescribes, even if you feel better. If you stop taking an antibiotic too soon, you may not kill all of the bacteria and you may get sick again.
- Take nonprescription pain medicine.
- Tell everyone with whom you have had sex in the last 3 months about your infection. Or you can ask the clinic staff to tell them without using your name. Your sexual contacts need to be treated even if they donâ€™t have any symptoms.
- Donâ€™t have sex until both you and your partner have finished all of the medicine and your provider says it’s OK.
- Ask your healthcare provider:
- How and when you will hear your test results
- What other STDs you should be tested for
- How long it will take to recover
- What activities you should avoid and when you can return to normal activities
- When itâ€™s safe to have sex again
- How to take care of yourself at home
- What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if you have them
- Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup.
How can I help prevent chlamydial infection?
- Use latex or polyurethane condoms during foreplay and every time you have vaginal, oral, or anal sex.
- Have just 1 sexual partner who is not sexually active with anyone else.
- If you have had sex and are worried that you may have been infected, see your healthcare provider even if you donâ€™t have symptoms.
- If you have been sexually assaulted, you may need to be treated to prevent sexually transmitted infections. You should have an exam within a few hours of the assault (and before showering or bathing) even if you donâ€™t want to press charges.
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This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
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