Chlamydia

Chlamydia (Penis)
Urethritis from chlamydia

Chlamydia is caused by a bacteria called chlamydia trachomatis and can be transmitted to the cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, urethra, rectum, eyes and less commonly, the throat. Chlamydia is the most commonly reported bacterial STI in Australia. The problem with chlamydia is that many people don’t have any symptoms and don’t know they are carrying the bacteria in their body. If left untreated, chlamydia can cause inflammation and scarring in the reproductive tract and potentially lead to infertility.

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Transmission

  • Unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex
  • Sharing douching equipment or enemas
  • Docking or nudging, without condoms
  • Mutual masturbation and fingering or fisting without protection
  • Semen and vaginal fluids entering the eyes
  • Mother to baby during birth

Signs and Symptoms

If symptoms do occur, it will usually be within 5-14 days of exposure. Untreated chlamydia can spread to the uterus and fallopian tubes and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can result in infertility, ectopic pregnancy, chronic pain. It can also spread to the testicles and cause inflammation and swelling, chronic pain and infertility. Chlamydia is also known to cause other complications such as arthritis.

Vagina
Often no symptoms, however if signs are present there may be:

  • Mild irritation or stinging when passing urine
  • Yellowish-white vaginal discharge
  • Pain or bleeding during vaginal sex
  • Unusual bleeding or spotting between periods
  • Pelvic pain and cramps

Penis
Often no symptoms, however if signs are present there may be:

  • Mild irritation or stinging when passing urine
  • Clear sticky discharge from the urethra (not precum or ejaculate)
  • Swollen and sore testicles

Anus
Often no symptoms, however if signs are present there may be:

  • Itchiness and rectal bleeding
  • Rectal heaviness
  • Pain when passing a bowel motion

Throat
Usually no symptoms, however if signs are present there may be:

  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Fever

Eyes

  • Conjunctivitis: sore eyes, swollen eyelids and a sticky discharge (that causes the eyelids to stick together when waking up in the morning)

Treatment

Chlamydia is treated with antibiotics prescribed by a doctor. Usually it is a once only dose to cure the infection. If the infection has progressed, then a longer course of antibiotics may be prescribed. Some antibiotics may interfere with the contraceptive pill, so extra precautions may be required to prevent pregnancy. Consult a doctor or nurse.

Prevention

Use condoms or dams for anal, vaginal and oral sex. Point the penis away from the face during Spanish or hand relief to prevent semen getting in the eyes. Don’t touch genitals or eyes with hands that have someone else’s body fluids on them.

Although unlikely, it is possible to transfer chlamydia between sites such as your anus, vagina and throat via fingers or a condom. For this reason, if you are performing oral, vaginal and anal sex, it is important to get all the respective swabs and you may also want to change condoms when changing between oral, anal and vaginal sex.

Note: it is recommended that you always change condoms when going from anal to vaginal or oral sex.