Chlamydia is the most commonly diagnosed STI in Australia.
Younger people (ages 15-29) are more likely to be diagnosed with chlamydia, accounting for roughly 70% of all infections.
Chlamydia is caused by the bacteria chlamydia trachomatis. It’s spread through unprotected sex, including vaginal, anal and oral sex.
Transmission can also occur during vaginal childbirth and cause infection in newborn; another reason antenatal tests are important during pregnancy.
75% of chlamydia infections don’t display any noticeable symptoms. Many people who have an infection don’t realise it and thus can pass it on to others.
Symptoms, if they do happen, begin to show within 2-14 days after exposure.
The most common symptoms include:
- Burning or painful urination
- Discharge from the penis that can be yellow, white or green
- Abnormal or increased vaginal discharge
- Lower abdominal pain or cramping
- Vaginal bleeding between periods
- Swollen and painful testicles
- Pain during or after sex
- Bleeding during or after sex
It’s super important to get regularly tested if you are sexually active since most of the time chlamydia shows no symptoms.
For people with vaginas chlamydia symptoms can easily be mistaken for a UTI or bladder infection.
If left untreated, chlamydia infection can lead to serious and long-term complications like pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) which can cause infertility.
There is a bunch of different ways you can get tested for chlamydia (since it can be found in multiple places).
The most common way is a urine sample. This will detect urethral or vaginal chlamydia.
If you’ve had oral sex, you will want an oral swab.
If you’ve had anal sex, you will want to get a rectal swab. Don’t worry, you get to do this yourself.
While you’re wait for results to come back, it’s wise to abstain from having sex, especially if you have symptoms or are the contact of someone with chlamydia.
Depending on the service you attend, you will receive your results in a few days to a week.
Chlamydia is a bacteria that we can easily treat with antibiotics. They can take some time to work so it’s important to wait at least a week before having unprotected sex.
You don’t build an immunity to chlamydia so you can still be infected if you come into contact with chlamydia again.
The best way to protect yourself and your sexual partners from chlamydia is by using barrier methods like condoms and dental dams. While it’s easy to test for and treat, If you think you may be at risk of being exposed to chlamydia, contact M Clinic or another health service to organise a comprehensive STI check.
How often should I get tested?
We recommend testing for chlamydia every 3-6 months (depending on your level of sexual activity) or when you have a new partner.
Over a thousand people each month test positive for chlamydia in WA. Of those, males make up for approximately 45%, and females about 55%. It’s more common in younger people.
If you do happen to test positive, it’s important that you inform anyone that you may have passed the infection on to so that they can get tested. This can even be done anonymously through the Let Them Know service.