Chlamydia (Kla-Mid-Dee-Ah) is the commonest and curable sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the UK.
The most important thing to know about Chlamydia is that any one who is having sex is vulnerable. You only need to have unprotected sex with one person who has the infection to catch it; but of course, the more partners you have, the more likely you are to be infected. During 2001, there were more than 71,000 new reported cases, the highest level ever and a 10 % rise from 2000.
According to Public Health laboratory Service figures it is estimated that one in ten under 25 year olds now have the infection.
If you are over 25 and have had two partners within a year, or recently changed partners your risk increases.
One of the most alarming problems with Chlamydia is that it is asymptomatic; that is to say most people don’t know that they have it in the early stages. This means that it is very easily passed on without people knowing. Some warning signs could be:
Pain or burning when urinating
Inflammation of the penis or vagina
Pain in the lower part of the body
Heavy periods or irregular bleeding
It can be passed on through:
Unprotected vaginal or anal sex with an infected partner.
Sharing sex toys
Passed from mother to baby at birth.
If it is left untreated for long enough it can cause serious damage such as problems with fertility including:
Blocked fallopian tubes (resulting in infertility)
Miscarriage or premature birth
Help and Support
Chlamydia will not go away on it’s own. However it can be simply and successfully treated with antibiotics.
If you think you have been at risk you can either talk to your GP and ask specifically for a test, or you can contact a sexual health clinic. These are also known as Genito-Urinary Medicine (GU) clinics, and are usually found at a large hospital. The clinics are free and confidential. Anyone can go; your doctor does not need to refer you.
You can find your nearest one in the phone book. Or by calling:
NHS Direct 0845 4647.
Sexual health help-line is available seven days a week 24 hours a day
Call: 0800 567 123