Chlamydia

Definition

Chlamydia is an infection. It is caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis. It is most often spread through sexual contact.

Causes

Both males and females may have chlamydia. However, they may not have any 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:

Symptoms

In men, chlamydia may cause symptoms similar to gonorrhea. Symptoms may include:

Symptoms that may occur in women include:

Exams and Tests

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 an exam by a provider. Today, very accurate tests can be done on urine samples. Results take 1 to 2 days to come back. Your provider may also check if you have other types of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Common STIs are:

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

Treatment

The most common treatment for chlamydia is antibiotics.

Both you and your sexual partners must be treated. This will ensure that they do not pass the infection back and forth. A person may become infected with chlamydia many times.

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

A follow-up may be done in 4 weeks to see if the infection has been cured.

Outlook (Prognosis)

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

If chlamydia spreads into your uterus, it can cause scarring. Scarring can make it harder for you to get pregnant.

You can help prevent infection with chlamydia by:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider if you have symptoms of chlamydia.

Many people with chlamydia may not have symptoms. Therefore, sexually active adults should be screened once in a while for the infection.


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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