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The facts about chlamydia and how to get help

The facts about chlamydia and how to get help

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Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the UK, but can be easily treated and prevented. Mayank Patel, our Tooting pharmacist from the Pearl Chemist Group has more details.

Chlamydia is a common STD that can infect both men and women.

It can cause serious and permanent damage to a woman's reproductive system. This can make it difficult or impossible for her to get pregnant later on. Chlamydia can also cause a potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy that occurs outside the womb).

You can get chlamydia by:

  • having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has chlamydia.
  • your genitals coming into contact with your partner's genitals – this means you can get chlamydia from someone even if there is no penetration, orgasm or ejaculation.
  • sharing sex toys that aren't washed or covered with a new condom each time they're used.
  • infected semen or vaginal fluid getting into your eye.

If you’ve had chlamydia and were treated in the past, you can still get infected again. If you are pregnant, you can give chlamydia to your baby during childbirth.

How can I reduce my risk of getting chlamydia?
The only way to avoid STDs is to not have vaginal, anal, or oral sex. If you are sexually active, you can do the following things to lower your chances of getting chlamydia:

  • Be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and has negative STD test results.
  • Use a latex condom every time you have sex.

Am I at risk for chlamydia?
Sexually active young people are at a higher risk of getting chlamydia. This is due to behaviours and biological factors common among young people. Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men are also at risk since chlamydia can spread through oral and anal sex.

If you are sexually active and younger than 25 years, you should get a test for chlamydia every year. However, you should still get tested regularly if you are older, especially if you have new or multiple sex partners, or a sex partner who has an STD. Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men as well as pregnant women should also get tested for chlamydia regularly.

I'm pregnant. How does chlamydia affect my baby?
It is possible to pass the infection to your baby during delivery. This could cause an eye infection or pneumonia in your newborn. Having chlamydia may also make it more likely to deliver your baby too early.

If you are pregnant, you should get tested for chlamydia at your first prenatal visit. Testing and treatment are the best ways to prevent health problems.

Get free, confidential advice in Pearl pharmacies across Tooting

Most people who have chlamydia have no symptoms. If you do have symptoms, they may not appear until several weeks after you have sex with an infected partner. Even when chlamydia causes no symptoms, it can damage your reproductive system.

Women with symptoms may notice abnormal vaginal discharge and/or a burning sensation when urinating. Symptoms in men include a discharge from the penis, a burning sensation when urinating and pain and swelling in one or both testicles.

Men and women can also get infected with chlamydia in their rectum. This happens either by having receptive anal sex, or from spreading from another infected location (such as the vagina). These infections can cause rectal pain, discharge and bleeding.

You should be examined by your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms or if your partner has an STD or symptoms of an STD. STD symptoms also include unusual sores, smelly discharge, burning when urinating, or bleeding between periods.

Laboratory tests can diagnose chlamydia. Your health care provider may ask you to provide a urine sample or may use (or ask you to use) a cotton swab to get a sample from the vagina to test for chlamydia.

Can chlamydia be cured?
Chlamydia can be cured with the right treatment. It is important that you take all of the medication your doctor prescribes to cure your infection. When taken properly it will stop the infection and could decrease your chances of having complications later on.

Repeat infection with chlamydia is common. You should be tested again about three months after you are treated, even if your sex partner(s) was treated.

I was treated for chlamydia. When can I have sex again?
You should not have sex again until you and your sex partner(s) have completed treatment. If your doctor prescribes a single dose of medication, you should wait seven days after taking the medicine before having sex. If your doctor prescribes a medicine for you to take for seven days, you should wait until you have taken all of the doses before having sex.

What happens if I don't get treated?
The initial damage that chlamydia causes often goes unnoticed. However, chlamydia can lead to serious health problems.

If you are a woman, untreated chlamydia can spread to your uterus and fallopian tubes (tubes that carry fertilized eggs from the ovaries to the uterus). This can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID often has no symptoms, but some women may experience abdominal and pelvic pain. Even if it doesn’t cause symptoms initially, PID can cause permanent damage to your reproductive system. PID can lead to long-term pelvic pain, inability to get pregnant, and potentially deadly ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the uterus).

Men rarely have health problems linked to chlamydia. Infection sometimes spreads to the tube that carries sperm from the testicles, causing pain and fever.

A Pearl pharmacist explains a home testing kit

We are happy to advise on chlamydia (and any other STDs that you would like to talk about) in a private and confidential setting. If you are between 18 and 24 years old, Pearl Chemist Group provides a free and confidential sample test kit which you can use at home. Just send off the sample and in a few days you will be sent the result via either email or text.

Our pharmacist Akash has more details in this short video.

Video by Jeffrey Frimpong-Manso and Digilab Tooting.

You can visit Pearl Chemist in one of their five branches across Tooting:

  • Pearl Chemist
    159 Mitcham Road
    SW17 9NH
    ​​Phone: 020 8672 2157
  • Aukland Rogers Pharmacy
    892 Garratt Lane
    SW17 0NB
    ​Phone: 020 8672 6737
  • Barrons Chemist
    158A Tooting High Road
    SW17 0RT
    Phone: 020 8672 7461
  • Fairoak Pharmacy
    270 Mitcham Lane
    SW16 6NU
    Phone: 020 8769 0251
  • Lords Pharmacy
    98 Tooting High Street
    SW17 0RR
    Phone: 020 8672 5537
  • C Bradbury Chemist
    86 Moyser Road
    SW16 6SQ
    tel 0208 769 4138

You can find out more on the Pearl website or follow us on Twitter.

The Pearl Chemist Group is part of our Tooting Wellbeing Network, bringing you info about health, fitness and wellbeing in Tooting!

The Pearl Chemist Group is one of our Community Partners. To find out more, click here.

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