What Is Chlamydia: Symptoms, Treatments, Testing

What Is Chlamydia: Symptoms, Treatments, Testing STIs
June 10, 2022
6 minutes Read
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What word has nine letters and will score you 20 points in Scrabble but get you a prescription in real life?

Here’s a hint: This sexually transmitted infection (STI) is often referred to as the ‘silent infection.’ Furthermore, it’s the most commonly reported bacterial STI in the U.S.A.

The answer is chlamydia.

So the next logical question is, “What is it?”

Meaning of chlamydia:

Chlamydia is caused by the bacteria known as Chlamydia trachomatis and is easily transmitted from person to person via sexual contact. A chlamydia test can help you know if you have it, and the next steps would be to seek Chlamydia trachomatis treatment.

This bacteria likes moist, warm areas and can infect one’s:

  • Vagina.
  • Rectum.
  • Penis.
  • Mouth.
  • Throat.

Furthermore, a person’s eyes can also become contaminated if sexual fluid contacts them.

If you think you have chlamydia, you’re likely wondering the following questions:

  1. How to test for chlamydia?
  2. Can chlamydia be cured?
  3. How long does chlamydia last?
  4. Can you get chlamydia from oral sex?
  5. What is chlamydia testing?
  6. Is there an at-home chlamydia test?

These are all great questions, and we’ll be going over each one, but first, let’s start with the basics.

Is chlamydia an STD or an STI?

Generally speaking, there is a strong consensus that both terms (STD and STI) refer to the same diagnoses, such as chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea.

However, according to Urgent Care Omaha, there is also a second point of view:

  • STD stands for Sexually Transmitted Disease and refers to cases where symptoms are actually present.
  • STI stands for Sexually Transmitted Infection and refers to cases where symptoms aren’t present.

Additionally, the third point of view is that it’s better to use the term STI because of the stigma and shame connected to the term STD.

Urgent Care Omaha notes that the main focus should be to ease concerns and help people feel more comfortable.

Symptoms of chlamydia:

What does chlamydia look like when a person has it? Initially, the ‘silent infection’ is hard to detect or even notice. It can take days, weeks, or months to notice symptoms once exposed.

In other words, many people can be unknowing carriers because this STI is asymptomatic.

Asymptomatic means producing or showing no symptoms. If a person doesn’t show signs and doesn’t know they have chlamydia, they can pass it on to partners even though they don’t mean to.

Common Symptoms in women include:
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal discharge with odor
  • Painful periods
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Pain during sex
  • Burning in or around the vagina
  • Itching in or around the vagina
Common Symptoms in men include:
  • Cloudy or clear discharge coming from the tip of the penis
  • Pain during urination
  • Itching around the penis
  • Burning around the penis
  • Swelling and pain around the testicles

With chlamydia testing and detection, further health issues can be avoided. For example, if left undetected, women can experience fertility issues due to blocked fallopian tubes.

First thing’s first:

If you encounter any of the symptoms mentioned, contact a health professional immediately to discuss chlamydia testing and chlamydia trachomatis treatment.

Thankfully, technology has come a long way, and now, you can reach a physician from the comfort of your own home with a healthcare app such as ravkoo MD.

As part of the ravkoo Health mobile app, ravkoo MD connects registered users with doctors via smartphone or tablet.

The perks of using this app include:
  • Affordability: Select your provider based on needs and service costs.
  • Accessibility: Consult a physician from your mobile device.
  • Ease: Should your doctor’s visit result in a prescription, you’ll be able to arrange the prescription’s fulfillment and free delivery via ravkoo RX.

STIs are extremely sensitive topics for anyone, so handling your health with care and discretion is our top priority at ravkoo Health. All you need is a stable internet connection, a smartphone, and an app membership to access this comprehensive healthcare service.

Causes of chlamydia:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated four million chlamydial infections in 2018.

What causes chlamydia

Once a person is infected, they can spread chlamydia by:
  • Oral sex: Infection is spread from one’s mouth to their partner’s vagina, penis, or anus (or the other way around).
  • Anal sex: Infection is spread from one’s penis to their partner’s anus (or the other way around).
  • Intercourse: Infection is spread interchangeably from the penis to the vagina.
  • Sharing sex toys: Infection is passed and shared via sex toys.
  • Fluid contact: Infected semen or vaginal fluid can contact a partner’s eye, causing an infection. An eye infection is uncommon but can occur if someone touches infected genitals and rubs their eyes without first washing their hands.

Can you get chlamydia from oral sex?

The bacteria that cause chlamydia are transmitted through semen and vaginal fluid. So as the above list shows, if a person is exposed to the bacteria via oral sex, they can get chlamydia.

Risk factors associated with chlamydia:

Regardless of one’s gender or sexual orientation, anyone having sex or coming into contact with sexual fluids or genitals can become ill.

Likewise, if you’re pregnant and have this STI, you can pass it on to your baby.

Factors that increase your risk of being infected with Chlamydia trachomatis include:

  • Being sexually active at a young age (or before 25)
  • Having several different sexual partners.
  • Inconsistent or non-existent condom use.
  • History of STIs.
Different types of infection:
1. Vaginal infection:

This common STI can sometimes be mistaken for a yeast or bladder infection; therefore, proper testing and chlamydia trachomatis treatment is necessary to avoid more severe health concerns.

2. Penal infection:

If left without proper treatment, people with a penis can experience epididymitis. Epididymitis happens when the tube responsible for transporting sperm becomes swollen or inflamed.

While the above condition is rare, a person needs to ask a doctor how to test for chlamydia to ensure their sexual health is prioritized.

3. Rectal infection:

Males and females can experience the discomfort of a rectal chlamydia infection. Typical symptoms include:

  • Anal pain (in or around)
  • Anal discharge
  • Bleeding
  • Incontinence (loss of control of bowel movements)
  • Inflammation of rectal tissue
4. Oral infection:

Less common than genital and anal infections, oral and throat infections include symptoms such as:

  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Fever

Because you can get chlamydia from oral sex, it’s vital that people of all ages, genders, and sexuality carefully consider the pros and cons before choosing a sexual partner.

5. Eye infection: 

When chlamydia-infected fluid comes into contact with one’s eye, an infection can occur. This uncomfortable infection is referred to as Chlamydial conjunctivitis.

Symptoms include:

  • Itchy eyes.
  • Red eyes.
  • Yellow, green, or white discharge crust.

How long does chlamydia last?

This STI should disappear with the correct treatment within one or two weeks. First, however, it’s crucial to take all prescribed antibiotics to properly combat the infection. Also, don’t have sex during the treatment, or you’re susceptible to reinfection.

In other words, the time frame of this STI in your body relies upon your ability and willingness to stick to your doctor’s prescribed treatment plan.

Can chlamydia be cured?

Yes. Be sure to take your prescribed antibiotics, and it will go away quite quickly.

Can chlamydia be cured by itself? If so, how long does chlamydia last without medical treatment?

Never expect chlamydia to go away by itself. If left untreated, chlamydia can cause harm to your health, your partner’s health (and, if pregnant, your baby’s health).

Furthermore, according to a medically reviewed article in Healthline, antibiotics are the only reliable and safe way to cure this infection.

Home remedies may offer minor relief of the symptoms. Still, they should only be included if you are completing an entire course of antibiotics and have received the go-ahead from a licensed physician.

How to test for chlamydia?

The STD testing is quite straightforward in regards to a chlamydia test. A quick swab or urine specimen should suffice for the lab test.

Usually, the doctor will swab inside one’s penile, vaginal area, or rectum to test whether the bacteria is present.

Can you use an at-home chlamydia test?

Yes, you can use an at-home chlamydia test. Sites like ravkoo LAB allow you to order, take, and receive results all from the privacy of your own house.

First, however, be sure to speak to a doctor to see if an at-home solution is best for you!

Tests for this particular STI usually fall within two categories which are: 

  1. Urine tests, and
  2. Swab tests.

Whether female or male, the test directions may vary if performed at home.

Depending on your physician, they may prefer to do the test in person or suggest you do a test at home. Follow your doctor’s instructions carefully to guarantee you receive accurate test results.

Treatment & medication for chlamydia:

The National Health Service (NHS) explains that over 95% of people who take their prescribed antibiotics correctly will be cured.

The most typical antibiotics used to treat a chlamydia infection are:

  • Azithromycin (Often taken as a single dose): If prescribed single-dosage medicine, wait seven days after taking the drug before having sex again.
  • Doxycycline (Usually taken for seven days): If prescribed a seven-day medicine dosage, wait until all seven days are complete before having sex again.

Make sure you only take antibiotics specified by your healthcare provider, and take all medications until they’re gone, even if your symptoms show improvement or go away completely.

Furthermore, antibiotics may rid you of the infection. However, they won’t reverse any harm caused by the bacteria before treatment. Therefore, to avoid prolonged health problems, it’s essential to get screened regularly for sexually transmitted infections and diseases.

How to prevent chlamydia?

The following prevention tips are suggested:

  • Use a condom every time you have sex.
  • Check the condom’s expiration date to ensure it’s still effective.
  • Inspect the condom for tears and breakage before using it.
  • Don’t use a damaged condom.
  • Use silicone lubricant to help prevent condom breakage.
  • Limit the number of new sexual partners.
  • Consider abstinence.
  • Honest communication about sexual history with a potential partner to understand bedroom history. Knowledge helps you to make a healthy choice about whether or not to engage in sex with a particular person.
11 interesting facts about chlamydia:
  1. According to the CDC, women between 15 and 24 are most likely to become infected with chlamydia. However, it affects both genders regardless of age.
  2. A pee or vaginal swab test can still be accurate and occur if you’re on your period.
  3. England created the National Chlamydia Screening Programme (NCSP) to reduce the harm of untreated chlamydia infection.
  4. Decreased sexual performance can be a symptom.
  5. Screening for prevention and detection should happen annually.
  6. In a medically reviewed publication in Everyday Health, and according to Jonathan Schaffir, MD, the Chlamydia organism lives within human cells. Therefore, it cannot be transmitted by external contact with towels or toilet seats.
  7. You can get chlamydia more than once.
  8. If one partner has this STI, both partners should be treated to avoid relapse.
  9. Chlamydia is transmitted through sexual liquids like pre-cum, semen (cum), and vaginal fluids.
  10. Chlamydia infection usually occurs in one’s genital tract (so the cervix in females and the penis in males).
  11. In 1907, two scientists (Halberstaedter and von Prowazek) noticed conjunctival scrapings (samples from infected eyes) from an orangutan that was experimentally infected.
In conclusion:

If you or your partner has chlamydia, the first thing to know is that there’s nothing to feel ashamed or embarrassed about. It’s not only treatable, but it’s also curable!

We as humans are sexual creatures, and our bodies are built to procreate. The problem is that sometimes, complications like STIs and STDs arise.

Rather than deal with this uncomfortable situation on your own, seek help and treatment from a doctor asap. The sooner you can get on an antibiotic, the sooner your life can return to normal.

Furthermore, remember that screening for chlamydia and other STIs is a vital preventative measure to protect you and your sexual partner.

Your health is wealth, so do your best to take care of it!

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