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About chlamydia?

Chlamydia is an infection caused by the bacterium chlamydia trachomatis. It can occur more than once in a lifetime.

Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted infection in North America and Europe. It is caused by the bacterium chlamydia trachomatis. This STI is becoming more and more common and the number of cases has been increasing over the last 15 years.

Why get tested?

This infection is difficult to diagnose because the majority of people infected with gonorrhea have no symptoms and therefore do not seek medical attention. People who are infected with gonococcus, the bacterium that causes gonorrhea, are often also infected with chlamydia. For this reason, screening for both diseases should be done routinely.

A person who has chlamydia will be able to avoid passing it on to others and prevent complications.

When to get tested for chlamydia?

If you have had risky, unprotected sex, you should see your health professional for a screening test.

Chlamydia is often referred to as the "silent disease" because more than 50% of infected men and 70% of infected women have no symptoms and do not know they have it. Symptoms usually appear after a few weeks, but it can take even longer for symptoms to appear.

Signs and symptoms

Most people with chlamydia have no symptoms. However, some symptoms may be present in the affected areas of the body, often 2 to 3 weeks after transmission: 

  • Unusual vaginal discharge

  • Pain during sexual intercourse

  • Tingling or burning sensation when urinating

  • Clear or coloured discharge from the urinary meatus or anus

  • Vaginal bleeding after sex or between periods

  • Testicular, anal or lower abdominal pain

Newborns can be infected by their mothers at the time of delivery. The infection may affect their eyes (conjunctivitis) or their lungs (pneumonia). They may have the following symptoms:

*in cases of conjunctivitis: discharge and redness in the eyes developing when the child is between 1 and 2 weeks old;

*in cases of pneumonia: coughing, difficult or wheezing breathing, rapid pulse developing before the child is 6 months old.

Transmission

Chlamydia is transmitted in a variety of ways:

  • Oral sex (contact of the mouth with the penis, vulva, vagina or anus)¬†

  • Vaginal intercourse (penis entering the vagina)¬†

  • Anal sex (penis in the anus)¬†

  • Contact between genitals¬†

  • Sharing sex toys¬†

  • Transmission from mother to baby at birth¬†

Window or incubation period (time before the disease is detectable on screening) 

14 days 

Prevention

The main protection against chlamydia is the use of condoms. A condom must be used during all genital contact and every time you have oral, vaginal or anal sex. Using a latex pad to cover the vulva or anus during oral sex is also a reliable way to protect yourself. To make a latex square, simply unroll a condom, cut off the ends and cut it lengthwise. It is also recommended that sex toys not be shared, or covered with a condom whenever possible, making sure to change the condom between partners. 

Complications

If left untreated, chlamydia can lead to the following problems: 

  • Infertility¬†

  • Testicular pain¬†

  • Chronic pain in the lower abdomen¬†

  • Chronic infection of the prostate (prostatitis)¬†

  • Ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy in the fallopian tubes)

Treatment

  • Because chlamydia is a bacterial infection, it can be treated with antibiotic tablets.¬†

    Since the infected individual can transmit the disease even during treatment, it is important to avoid sexual intercourse during treatment and for the next 7 days. If sex cannot be avoided during this period, it is important to use a condom. 

    Following diagnosis, it is also recommended that current sexual partners and those in the 60 days prior to the onset of symptoms be contacted so that they too can be tested and treated if necessary. This will help break the chain of transmission of the disease. 

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