Chlamydia prevalence – the essential information
First of all, chlamydia is a bacterial sexually transmitted infection. Actually, it’s the single most common bacterial STI diagnosed in England (data from 2015), accounting for 48% of total STI diagnoses in 2017 – according to official statistics STI and chlamydia screening procedure.
The young people are at the greatest risk of chlamydia exposure – the highest prevalence has been consistently found in the group of people aged 15-24 years – in 2017, this population accounted for 63% of all diagnoses of chlamydia included in the Crown’s research.
The 2017 findings suggest that the overall situation might be getting slightly better – rate of chlamydia positiveness dropped by 2 percentage points as compared with 2016. That should not, however, keep us from putting up a fierce fight against that STI.
Especially that there are social groups more exposed that others – young, sexually active women are more exposed than men (data from US’ CDC), and Black Minority Ethnic is 3 times more at risk in terms of chlamydia epidemiology (in UK).
Chlamydia – what is it?
The definition of chlamydia:
Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection that’s caused by bacteria species – Chlamydia trachomatis. Apart from being just relatively highly prevalent among UK’s youngsters, including those underage, it’s a tricky one. Why?
Symptoms of chlamydia
Hold on! Just a quick heads-up, before you dive into all the content below, that may whip up some anxiety. There is a happy ending to all that: chlamydia is really, really easily curable. Keep that in mind before checking out the list of symptoms. The list is for your safety, a cornerstone of which is self-checking and common sense. Chlamydia can be treated with a short antibiotic course. Keep that in mind also when reading about long-term possible effects of untreated STI – there’s no need to worry!
So, the symptoms of chlamydia. Possibly, none! At least none that would draw particular attention, especially for those unaware of the clinical image, and therefore not looking out for any signs of possible chlamydia contraction. Therefore, without trying to cause any panic, general knowledge what to look out for is a crucial element for early detection and an effective treatment.
If there are symptoms, these are most usually:
- Pain experienced while urinating
- Unusual, possibly smelly discharge from the vagina, penis or rectum (back passage)
And gender-specific symptoms may be:
- in women – abdominal pain; bleeding or pain during or after sex or between menstruation
- in men – painful or swollen testes
How can I get chlamydia?
Generally, chlamydia spreads through unprotected sexual intercourse, of all kinds: penetration: vaginal, anal, oral, but also using objects, including sex toys; non-penetrative sexual contact, including therefore scissoring, frottage, and the like, or, with no genital contact, but when semen or vaginal fluid gets into an eye.
You CANNOT get chlamydia from kissing or hugging a carrier, or getting in contact with their sharing baths, towels, swimming pools, toilet seats or cutlery, and so on.
Long-term chlamydia impact on health
As we mentioned above, normally chlamydia is treated – and cured – with a short course of antibiotics. However, if left untreated, there is some damage it can do to your organism.
Unfortunately, if untreated, chlamydia spreads all around the place. It’s a risk factor for a number of other diseases, sometime quite serious ones:
- Hospitalization – due to pain and fever
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
- Epididymo-orchitis (inflammation of the testicles)
- Infertility, due to a scarring in the reproductive tract
- Reactive arthritis (less often)
There’s also a certain likelihood of passing chlamydia on to a newborn during childbirth. For infants, chlamydia postis more serious health risks – among them, eye infections and pneumonia. There’s an NHS knowledge base on those, to be checked out here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/chlamydia/complications/
As mentioned already twice above, there are effective chlamydia curations. The antibiotics that will help you fight the infection off, are azithromycin and doxycycline. Treatment with azithromycin may last a single day only, some other medication need a week of administering. On top of that, during the entire chlamydia treatment, one is recommended to withhold any sexual activity. For 1-day treatment courses this extends to a period of a week after the meds are taken.
A crucial element of a successful therapy and staying healthy is having a follow-up diagnostic test for chlamydia. Preferably, around 3 months after the initial infection was cleared up. Chlamydia is one of those infections that can be caught over and over again – and any contraction results in susceptibility for recurrent ones.
- Get yourself tested. The recommended frequency is every 1 year or every time you change a sexual partner.
- Where can I get a chlamydia test from? Tests are available at your GP, of course, but also: community contraceptive service or local genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic.
- Use protections – they will help you protect not only yourself, but also any person you’d have an intercourse with. Condoms work as a barrier for chlamydia, therefore using condom for every vaginal or anal intercourse is the simplest method of protecting yourself. Use appropriate protections for oral sex, too – a condom or a special dam, used also for scissoring/trib (rubbing female genitals together)
- NOT sharing is precisely the caring here – at least when it comes to sex toys, and STIs, chlamydia included.
- When diagnosed, help prevent the spreading of the infection – it entails telling your current sexual partner or partners about your infection, but also – giving a heads-up to each and every one of your recent sexual partners. Sexual health or GUM clinics can help you with that – they can contact your sexual partners, speak to them, or they can be send them a note recommending getting tested. Any of your personal data are never shared in that process.