Chlamydia infection in women is usually silent and is often not detected until nasty complications have developed. A new test for chlamydia has made finding it easier and more accurate.
What is chlamydia?
Chlamydia trachomatis is one of the most common STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) in Australia. In women, it can cause an abnormal vaginal discharge or bleeding, pelvic pain, or painful intercourse. In men it causes a discharge from the penis or pain when passing urine.
However, 80% of women with the infection have no symptoms and serious complications can appear years later. Chlamydia can travel up the cervix to the fallopian tubes, causing infection and scarring. This is a common cause of infertility and ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy in the tube).
How is it detected?
Chlamydia can now be found with a simple and convenient urine test in both women and men. This sophisticated test is highly accurate and detects most cases, even when symptoms are absent. Swabs are also sometimes taken from the cervix to detect the infection.
Should you be tested?
You may need testing if you:
- Are less than 25 years of age
- Have a recent new sexual partner or multiple partners in the last year
- Do not always use a condom
- Have had any other STD, e.g. genital warts, herpes
- Have a partner with any STD or who has had multiple partners in the last year
- Have symptoms of chlamydia
Is treatment effective?
Prevention is the best policy for chlamydia. Regular use of condoms will reduce the risk of chlamydia and most other STDs.
Chlamydia is usually treated with a single dose of an antibiotic called azithromycin. This drug is highly effective and has a low risk of side effects. Sometimes a 10-day course of another antibiotic is used, e.g. doxycycline.
All recent sexual partners in the last few months (where a condom was not used) should also be treated.
Please note this information was correct at time of printing.
For up to date information, speak to your doctor.