What is chlamydia?
Chlamydia is an STI. It is the most common STI in South Africa apart from HIV. It is caused by bacteria.
How can I get chlamydia?
This STI spreads through unprotected sex (vaginal, anal or oral) with someone who has the infection.
What does chlamydia look like?
If you have chlamydia you might not know it because you may not have symptoms or signs. This means that you can continue to spread it through unprotected sex.
If you do have signs or symptoms of chlamydia, you may experience the following:
- Thick yellow discharge (a creamy liquid which can be like pus) from your penis, vagina or anus.
- Pain or burning when peeing.
- Pain or bleeding during sex.
- Painful testicles.
- Stomach pain.
- If you’ve had anal sex, it can also cause pain, discharge, and bleeding from your anus.
How do I test for chlamydia?
Clinics don’t routinely test for chlamydia. Instead, healthcare providers give antibiotics to treat it (and other potential STIs) if you have symptoms. If your healthcare provider does a test, it can include either a urine (pee) sample or a swab from inside the vagina or urethra of a man which is then sent away to the lab for testing.
How is chlamydia treated?
Chlamydia is treated with antibiotics. If you have been started on antibiotics, don’t have oral, vaginal or anal sex, or use sex toys, until you and your partner(s) have both finished the treatment and any symptoms have gone. This is to help prevent you being re-infected or passing the infection on to someone else. You and your partner still need to avoid sex for 7 days after starting the treatment as that’s how long it takes to work.
If you have chlamydia, you should tell the person you last had sex with and anyone you have had unprotected sex with in the past 2 to 3 months. They may also be infected and need treatment.
Note: Don’t wait too long to get treatment. If you have chlamydia and leave it untreated, it can cause long-term problems for both men and women. In women it can lead to a problem called “PID” or pelvic inflammatory disease. PID is when the infection spreads up into the upper reproductive organs (uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes), it can cause pelvic and abdominal pain, make it hard to get pregnant later or result in ectopic pregnancies – which is when pregnancy develops outside your uterus (womb).
If you’re infected when you’re pregnant, you could also pass the infection on to your baby during delivery.