Chlamydia is one of the increasing STI (sexually transmitted infection) in the UK. It is a bacterial infection and is highly contagious and is prevalent in young people between the ages of 18 and 25.
It can be transmitted during vaginal, anal or oral sex. Chlamydia often demonstrates no obvious signs and recent studies suggest that approximately 75% of women do not experience any symptoms and a similar figure for the men.
Chlamydia can be destructive if not treated early. The infection can spread into the uterus (in women) or fallopian tubes and this can also cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). The effects of PID can cause irreparable damage to the tubes, uterus and cause severe long term pain and prevents a high percentage of women conceiving in the future (have a baby) or a higher risk of having an ectopic pregnancy (where the pregnancy grows outside of the uterus).
For men, the effects are different. The infection can spread to the tube that carries sperm from the testes, causing pain, fever and quite possibly but rarely, sterility.
Prevention from catching Chlamydia is to use appropriate methods of safe sex (i.e. use a condom or to refrain from sexual intercourse).
Chlamydia is diagnosed by using a test specifically for this STI. A sample can be collected from a site such as the penis or the cervix at a registered STI clinic (family planning clinic etc) or a GP surgery. There are some home testing kits available from a local pharmacy or a bigger store such as Boots. Some are available for free if not charged anything.
Chlamydia can be easily treated and eliminated with the use of antibiotics. If you have been diagnosed with Chlamydia, it would be recommended to inform your sexual partner that you have a STI so that they can be tested and treated accordingly if diagnosed. The infection can re-occur if a sexual partner is infected with Chlamydia and to prevent this is to use a condom.
If you are worried that you may have Chlamydia, contact your GP or a local family planning clinic, some details may be of a use on this website (look up contacts).