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9 FACTS ABOUT CHLAMYDIA
1. HOW COMMON IS CHLAMYDIA?
There were nearly 5,000 cases of chlamydia reported in Montana in 2018. Most cases were reported in women age 20-24, partially due to screening recommendations for females.
2. WHAT IS CHLAMYDIA?
Chlamydia is a common STD that can infect both men and women and cause serious, permanent damage to a woman’s reproductive system. This can make it difficult or impossible for her to get pregnant later on. Chlamydia can also cause a potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy that occurs outside the womb).
3. HOW IS CHLAMYDIA SPREAD?
You can get chlamydia by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has chlamydia.
If your sex partner is male you can still get chlamydia even if he does not ejaculate (cum).
If you’ve had chlamydia and were treated in the past, you can still get infected again. This can happen if you have unprotected sex with someone who has chlamydia.
If you are pregnant, you can give chlamydia to your baby during childbirth.
4. WHO SHOULD GET TESTED?
* All sexually active women younger than 25 years should get tested every year for chlamydia, as well as older women with risk factors such as new or multiple sex partners, or a sex partner who has a sexually transmitted infection.
* At risk Pregnant women should get tested for chlamydia and other STDs early in the pregnancy, with repeat testing as needed, to protect the health of the mother and baby.
* All sexually active gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) should get tested every year. MSM with multiple or anonymous partners should be screened more frequently for STDs such as at 3-to-6 month intervals.
Click here to find a testing location near you.
5. HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE CHLAMYDIA?
Most people with chlamydia have no symptoms. If you do have symptoms, they may not appear until several weeks after you have sex with an infected partner. Chlamydia can damage your reproductive system, even if you have no symptoms.
Women with symptoms may notice an abnormal vaginal discharge or a burning sensation when urinating.
Symptoms in men can include a discharge from the penis, a burning sensation when urinating or pain and swelling in one or both testicles (although this is less common).
Men and women can also get infected with chlamydia in their rectum. This happens either by having receptive anal sex, or by spread from another infected site (such as the vagina). While these infections often cause no symptoms, they can cause rectal pain, discharge or bleeding.
You should be examined by your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms or if your partner has an STD or symptoms of an STD. STD symptoms can include an unusual sore, a smelly discharge, burning when urinating, or bleeding between periods.
6. WHAT IF I DON’T GET TREATED?
The initial damage that chlamydia causes often goes unnoticed. However, chlamydia can lead to serious health problems.
If you are a woman, untreated chlamydia can spread to your uterus and fallopian tubes (tubes that carry fertilized eggs from the ovaries to the uterus). This can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID often has no symptoms, however some women may have abdominal and pelvic pain. Even if it doesn't cause symptoms initially, PID can cause permanent damage to your reproductive system and can lead to long-term pelvic pain, inability to get pregnant, and potentially deadly pregnancy outside the uterus.
Men rarely have health problems linked to chlamydia. Infection sometimes spreads to the tube that carries sperm from the testicles, causing pain and fever. Rarely, chlamydia can prevent a man from fathering children. Untreated chlamydia may also increase your chances of getting or giving HIV - the virus that causes AIDS.
7. CAN CHLAMYDIA BE CURED?
Yes, chlamydia can be cured with the right treatment with certain antibiotics. You will be prescribed a single dose or have a week of treatment. It is important that you take all of the medication your doctor prescribes to cure your infection. When taken properly it will stop the infection and could decrease your chances of having complications later on. You should not share medication with anyone.
Chlamydia will not go away on its own, and will not be cured by home remedies or over-the-counter medication.
Repeat infection with chlamydia is common. You should be tested again about three months after you are treated, even if your sex partner(s) was treated.
8. WHEN CAN I HAVE SEX AGAIN?
You should not have sex again until you and your sex partner(s) have completed treatment. If your doctor prescribes a single dose of medication, you should wait seven days after taking the medicine before having sex. If your doctor prescribes a medicine for you to take for seven days, you should wait until you have taken all the doses before having sex.
9. HOW CAN I REDUCE MY CHANCES OF GETTING CHLAMYDIA?
The only way to avoid STDs is to not have vaginal, anal, or oral sex.
If you are sexually active, you can do the following things to lower your chances of getting chlamydia:
- Be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and has negative STD test results;
- Use latex condoms the right way every time you have sex. (https://www.cdc.gov/condomeffectiveness/)
PrEP, Pre Exposure Prophylaxis, a pill taken daily to prevent HIV infection, will NOT protect you from chlamydia. PrEP is also known by the brand name Truvada or Descovy.
Having chlamydia once does NOT protect you from getting it again.
For more information, visit CDC's chlamydia webpage featuring factsheets, posters, videos, statistics and more. Please contact your local health department for questions and reporting issues.