Chlamydia is the most commonly reported STI among young people in Australia. It can affect anyone and is caused by a type of bacteria.
Causes and reducing risk factors
Chlamydia is usually spread by vaginal or anal sex without a condom. Condoms (with a bit of water based lube if you like) are the best way to protect yourself and your partners from chlamydia. Chlamydia can also be spread through oral sex without a condom or dam. Using condoms or dams during oral sex can reduce the risk of getting chlamydia.
Chlamydia usually doesn’t have symptoms. If there are symptoms, they may include a clear discharge from the penis or pain when peeing. Other symptoms may include bleeding between periods or pain in the pelvic area where the uterus and fallopian tubes sit. A simple STI test with a doctor or at a sexual health clinic will tell you for sure if you have it.
Risks if not treated
If left untreated, chlamydia could lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, an infection of the uterus and fallopian tubes, which can cause chronic pelvic pain and sometimes even infertility. It can also lead to longer-term infection of the testicles and infertility in people with a penis.
Chlamydia is easily treated with antibiotics. It’s important to avoid sex until you’ve finished your full course of treatment and for at least a week following your last dose to make sure you are no longer able to transmit it.
If you have chlamydia it is your responsibility to let all your sexual partners from at least the past six months know so that they can be tested and treated if needed. It can feel a bit embarrassing or awkward at first, you don’t need to call them either. For advice on how to tell them, visit the let them know website.