Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
What is it?
Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the UK. If found and treated early it will not cause any problems.
Anyone can catch it, but chlamydia is most common in men and women under 25 years old.
However, if it is left untreated it can affect your health. Women could experience:
- lower abdominal (tummy) pain due to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
- infertility (difficulty becoming pregnant)
- ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy in fallopian tube)
In men it can cause epididymo-orchitis (painful, swollen testicles).
How do I catch it?
Chlamydia trachomatis is a bacterium that is passed from one person to another through sex. The bacteria infect the cells lining the cervix (neck of the womb), urethra (tube where urine comes out), rectum (back passage) and sometimes the eyes or throat.
Chlamydia is spread through vaginal, oral and anal sex. You can also catch it from sex toys if they are not washed or covered by a new condom each time they are used. Occasionally it can be passed on fingers to eyes, causing eye infections, or from a mother to her baby at birth, causing an eye or lung infection in the baby.
You can’t catch it from kissing, hugging, sharing towels, swimming pools, toilets or sharing cups, plates or cutlery.
50% of men will not have any obvious symptoms. In men with symptoms, the most common problems are discharge (liquid) from the end of the penis and pain or tingling when passing urine.
70–80% of women will not have any obvious symptoms. In women with symptoms, there might be an increase or change in vaginal discharge, pain passing urine, lower abdominal (tummy) pain, pain during sex or bleeding in between periods.
Chlamydia tests can be done on a urine sample or swabs taken from the genitals (penis, vagina or back passage) and throat. We can recommend the best test for you depending on whether you have any symptoms and what they are.
If you’re aged 16 or over and living in Birmingham or Solihull, you can request a free sexually transmitted infection (STI) self-sampling kit. Just follow the instructions in the kit to take your own samples, and return to us for testing, all for free.
Chlamydia often doesn’t cause any obvious symptoms, but if you do have any symptoms, we’d like to see you in clinic.
All Umbrella clinics provide treatment for sexually transmitted infections, including chlamydia. Some Umbrella pharmacies also offer chlamydia treatment. To find clinics and pharmacies, and to see which services they offer, please see our service locator.
Chlamydia is usually treated with a course of antibiotics.
If you are treated for chlamydia, it is essential that your partner is also treated before you have sex again.
It’s a good idea to get tested for chlamydia again around three months after you finish your treatment. You may be more likely to catch chlamydia if you’ve already had it, and repeated infections increase the risk of serious health problems.
Detailed information on STIs is available on the NHS website.
See the FPA website for a range of downloadable leaflets on sexually transmitted infections.
The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) website also features a range of downloadable leaflets on STIs.