Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the UK with around 200,000 new cases reported each year. With so many people carrying the condition, there is a real chance many of us may come into contact with it at some stage during our lives. Unfortunately chlamydia can show no symptoms and often people only find out about it when they are contacted by a previous (or current) sexual partner. Here’s some advice on what you should do in these cases.
If you’ve been told by a sexual partner that you may have chlamydia, the first thing to do is get tested. There are a range of chlamydia tests available, both free on the NHS and at private testing companies such as Your Sexual Health. You can also choose whether you want to visit a clinic or get tested in the comfort of your own home with a home chlamydia test kit.
Avoid fake STI tests
As a word of warning, home test kits purchased on online marketplaces that promise instant results should be avoided for a number of reasons. These tests are designed to be carried out by trained medical staff, meaning results are often inaccurate when carried out at home. You’ll also have to carry out another test before a GP offers you a prescription for treatment. All tests offered by Your Sexual Health are carried out in a laboratory or by trained medical staff.
I’ve shown no symptoms, should I still get tested?
If you’ve shown no symptoms of chlamydia, you should never assume that you don’t have it. Around 70% of women and 50% of men show no symptoms of the condition after they’re infected and the only way to know for sure is by getting tested. The symptomless nature of chlamydia is one of the main reasons that it is spread so easily.
The good news is chlamydia is 100% curable and if caught early it will have no lasting health implications. If you’ve tested positive, chlamydia treatment will usually be in the form of antibiotics taken in either one sitting or over the course of a week. Once you’ve taken your medication you should abstain from sex for at least a week after you’ve completed your antibiotics. A test to confirm cure is usually recommended two weeks following your treatment.
It’s very rare to be able to obtain a prescription for chlamydia medication without getting tested. It’s also dangerous to do so as it may cause bacteria in your body to build up a tolerance to antibiotics making them less effective in the future.
We used a condom. Shall I still get tested?
Although condoms greatly reduce your chances of contracting chlamydia by as much as 98%, there’s still a chance that you may have caught it. The only way to know for sure that you’re clear is by taking an STI test.
I caught chlamydia from my current partner, should I be worried?
If your partner has told you that they have chlamydia, it’s important that you remain calm. Chlamydia is not always as a result of one person cheating. On many occasions the only thing someone is guilty of is not getting tested before you began your relationship. This is often the case in new relationships where one person didn’t get tested before you began sleeping together.
Chlamydia can go months and often years without being diagnosed, so unless you receive regular tests, there’s no way of pinpointing the exact point that you’ve been infected. If you test positive your GP or a public health worker will be able to offer you advice that will help your relationship following chlamydia.
How to avoid catching chlamydia in the future
The easiest way to prevent the spread of chlamydia during sexual intercourse is by wearing a condom when having sex with a new sexual partner. You should always wear a condom during sex until both people in a relationship have had the opportunity to get tested. Remember, just like many other STIs, chlamydia shows no symptoms and it’s always wise to undergo a regular sexual health screen to know for sure that you’re all clear.