What is chlamydia?
Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted disease
in the United States. It can cause infection of the cervix
or urinary tract
. It can also lead to pelvic inflammatory disease
. Fortunately, chlamydia can be cured with antibiotics
. back to top
How do you get chlamydia?
Chlamydia is caused by a tiny parasite
that lives inside cells. You can get it only from intimate sexual contact
, which is any touching of your genitals to another person's mouth, genitals, or anus. Even if you don't have intercourse, you can still catch chlamydia if your genitals just touch the genitals of somebody else who has it. back to top
Who can get chlamydia?
Anybody can get chlamydia, but it's more common among people who:
- are younger than 25
- are unmarried
- have no children
- have many sexual partners
- have had new sexual partners recently
Every time you have sex with someone you increase your chances of catching a sexually transmitted disease
(STD). Your chances double if you have two partners, triple if you have three partners, and greatly increase the more sexual partners you have. But you can still get chlamydia even if you've only had one sexual partner. back to top
Could I have chlamydia and not know it?
It's possible to have chlamydia for months or years without knowing it. You could have very mild symptoms or none at all. You can lower your chances of getting chlamydia and other STDs by using condoms
. If you've had sex without a condom, even once, it's possible you could have caught chlamydia. back to top
What can I do to avoid chlamydia?
If every boy you're with uses a condoms
every time you have intercourse or intimate sexual contact
, you can really lower your chances of getting chlamydia. If you don't have sex or intimate sexual contact at all, you can't get chlamydia. back to top
How do I know if I have chlamydia?
The most common symptoms of chlamydia are:
What should I do if I think I have chlamydia?
- change in the smell or color of your vaginal discharge, which will show up on your underpants or on toilet paper when you go to the bathroom
- pain when you have sexual intercourse
- lower belly pain
- bleeding like a mini period when you don't expect your period
- pain or a burning feeling when you pee back to top
Remember, you can have chlamydia without knowing it. You may have very mild symptoms or none at all. If you think you might have chlamydia, make an appointment with your health professional to get tested. A special test called a cervical culture
will tell if you have chlamydia. This test is done during a pelvic exam
During the pelvic exam, your health professional will take a sample of some of the cells from your cervix with a cotton swab. The cells will be tested to see if you have chlamydia. It may take about a week from the time of your visit to find out if you have it. Your health professional will call you or write you a letter to tell you. If it says in the letter that you tested positive for chlamydia, it means you have it. If you tested negative, you don't have it. But if your health professional believes you have chlamydia, he or she will give you some medicine to take right away. That's so you can start fighting the infection without waiting for the test results. back to top
How do I get rid of chlamydia?
To treat chlamydia, you take an antibiotic
. The most popular antibiotic for chlamydia is called azithromycin
. It's popular because you only need one dose of it.
Many people who have chlamydia also have gonorrhea
. Your health professional will test you for both chlamydia and gonorrhea at your appointment. If you also have gonorrhea, you will need two separate drugs because the medicine that is used to treat chlamydia does not work on gonorrhea. back to top
How do I know if the medicine is working?
If you had symptoms of a chlamydia infection, such as a vaginal discharge
that looks or smells funny or burning when you pee, your symptoms should start to get better within 48 hours after you take the medicine. Your health professional may want to test you again in 1 to 2 months to be sure that you are cured. If you have questions or concerns about your treatment, talk to your health professional. back to top
Should my boyfriend be treated for chlamydia?
Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease, so if you have it, your boyfriend probably has it. Your boyfriend should see his health professional to get tested. If your boyfriend has chlamydia, he will also have to take antibiotics. If you've had sex with more than one partner, you should tell everyone you had sex with so they all can get treated. back to top
Can I have sex while I'm taking the medicine for chlamydia?
You shouldn't have sex with anyone until the treatment is finished. Otherwise, you may give it back to your boyfriend or pass it on to someone else before being completely cured. back to top
What if I have chlamydia, but I don't do anything about it?
If you have chlamydia and you don't get help for it, you could develop pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
. PID is an infection of part of your reproductive system
. The infection starts in the cervix, and travels through the uterus
to the fallopian tubes
and the ovaries
. PID can cause scarring of your reproductive organs, and this can affect your ability to have children later in life. A person who has PID can usually be cured with antibiotics. But sometimes the condition is more severe and requires a hospital stay. back to top
Who should I talk to if I think I have chlamydia?
You should call your health professional whenever you have vaginal discharge
that looks or smells funny, or if it hurts or burns when you pee. Remember to have a pelvic exam
once every year, especially if you are sexually active. During the pelvic exam, your health professional will do a test to see if you have chlamydia. back to top