What should you do if you have chlamydia, Singapore’s most common STD?
So, you think you've got the "clam" or Chlamydia? Don’t worry, it's treatable and there’s help! And yes, I know sexually transmitted diseases are unpleasant and you definitely want them gone right away.
However, knowing exactly what you may be facing can help you protect yourself and get treatment sooner rather than later. Based on experience seeing patients, I know guys usually need a little nudge to take care of themselves. This post is chock full of information on Chlamydia and everything that you and your partner can do to protect each other. Sexual health information should be easily accessible, and we are here for it!
What exactly is Chlamydia?
Simply put, Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria. It is transmitted through sexual contact. Once you come into contact with the vaginal fluids or semen of an infected person, you run the risk of contracting Chlamydia. According to the Singapore Department of Sexually Transmitted Infections, Chlamydia is the most common STD.
The behaviors that put you at risk:
- Giving of receiving oral sex
- Unprotected Sex
As a side note, you should know that pregnant women can pass on chlamydia to their babies.
Where does the Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria live?
The bacteria are usually found in the following parts of the body:
And on rare occasions:
So, you can see how you can be exposed.
Can Chlamydia be spread through physical contact?
No, you cannot contract Chlamydia through activities like kissing, hugging or sharing utensils and toilet seats. Even swimming pools are totally fine too! To minimize your risk, your best bet is to use condoms during sexual intercourse.
What is usually the first sign of Chlamydia?
Statistics show that 50% of guys who contracted chlamydia did not show any symptoms or signs. Those who did usually noticed symptoms about 1-3 weeks or months after they were infected.
Symptoms that guys should be on the lookout for are:
- Testicular pain
- Painful urination
- Strange cloudy, watery or white discharge
- A throat infection
- An eye infection that causes pain, swelling, irritation, and often a discharge
- Uncomfortable rectum infection
How is Chlamydia treated?
Chlamydia is treated by antibiotics and if it is taken as directed it is 95% effective in fighting Genital Chlamydia. Your doctor may suggest either a single dose or a longer course of medication. If you are treated with the single-dose antibiotic, you and your partner should not have sex for 7 days after treatment.
If your partner tests positive for chlamydia, it's imperative that you be treated. If your doctor feels pretty certain that you have chlamydia, he may begin your treatment before you get your test results back. Regardless, just know that both of you have to be treated or you will just have another cycle of reinfection and no one wants that.
What will happen if I'm not treated?
Well, no treatment means that your infection is likely to get worse and bring with it a host of complications. In men, untreated chlamydia can result in any of the problems below:
- Prostate gland infection
- Testicular inflammation that can lead to infertility.
- Stricture (Narrowing of the urethra because of the infection or inflammation.)
- Joint inflammation or sexually reactive arthritis may happen on rare occasions.
Will Chlamydia go away on its own?
It can, but it's going to take longer than you want it to. In the meantime, you also run the risk of developing serious complications. So, it is strongly recommended that you seek medical treatment sooner rather than later.
When will I start to see an improvement in my symptoms?
Your symptoms will likely start to disappear a few days after treatment. Within a week the discharge and any pain during urination will be gone. However, pain in your testicles may take a couple of days to improve.
If there are any symptoms that are bothering you, please speak to your doctor.
How can I prevent a Chlamydia infection in the future?
I’m sure you want your chlamydia infection to be a "one and done" experience. Here are some helpful tips to keep you Chlamydia free:
- Always use a condom.
- Limit the number of sexual partners you have. Go for quality, not quantity.
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- Cevenini R, Donati M, Sambri V. Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol. 2002 Dec;16(6):761-73. doi: 10.1053/beog.2002.0323. PMID: 12473280
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This article was written and medically reviewed by Dr Ben, M.D on 07/06/2021