Chlamydia infections in women

Definition

Chlamydia is an infection that can be passed from one person to another through sexual contact. This type of infection is known as sexually transmitted infection (STI).

Causes

Chlamydia is caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis. Both males and females may have this infection. However, they may not have symptoms. As a result, you may become infected or pass the infection to your partner without knowing it.

You are more likely to become infected with chlamydia if you have:

Symptoms

Most women do not have symptoms. But some have:

If you have symptoms of a chlamydia infection, your health care provider will collect a culture or perform a test called a nucleic acid amplification test.

In the past, testing required a pelvic exam by a health care provider. Today, very accurate tests can be done on urine samples. Vaginal swabs, which a woman collects herself, can also be tested. Results take 1 to 2 days to come back. Your provider may also check you for other types of STIs. Most common STIs are:

Even if you have no symptoms, you may need a chlamydia test if you:

Treatment

Chlamydia can be treated with antibiotics. Some of these are safe to take if you are pregnant. Common side effects include:

Both you and your partner need to take the antibiotics.

You and your partner are asked to abstain from sexual intercourse during the time of treatment.

Gonorrhea often occurs with chlamydia. Therefore, treatment for gonorrhea is often given at the same time.

Safe sex practices are needed to prevent becoming infected with chlamydia or spreading it to others.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Antibiotic treatment almost always works. You and your partner should take the medicines as directed.

If chlamydia spreads into your uterus and fallopian tubes, it can cause scarring. Scarring can make it harder for you to get pregnant. You can help prevent this by:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Make an appointment with your provider if:


Review Date: 4/19/2018
Reviewed By: John D. Jacobson, MD, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda Center for Fertility, Loma Linda, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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