Chlamydia

Know the Risk

Having sex is a big responsibility. Any time you have sex you are at risk for getting a sexually transmitted disease (STD). The more you know about STDs, the better you can protect yourself.

Click on the links below to learn detailed facts about STDs and how to keep yourself healthy.

A sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by germs called bacteria.
The most common STD in Philly and the United States.

It can make it so you can't have babies.

It is the leading reason that people can't have babies.
Most of the time it's symptoms do not show up!
Symptoms include burning while peeing. For girls, discharge and bleeding during sex is a sign.
For guys, pain while peeing and a watery discharge are common symptoms.
Can be treated and cured with medicine called antibiotics.

What is it?

Chlamydia (cla-mid-ee-ah) is a sexually transmitted disease. It is caused by germs called bacteria. Sometimes, you don't even know you have it. It is the most common STD in Philadelphia, and the US.

How is it spread?

It can be spread from person to person during vaginal or anal sex. It's important to know that the penis doesn't need to be completely in the vagina or anus for Chlamydia to be passed from one person to another. It can be spread just from skin-to-skin sexual contact (the penis and vagina or anus touching each other). This means that it is very important to use a condom from the very beginning to the end of sexual contact. While it is less likely, it is still possible for it to be transmitted to the throat during oral sex. It can also be passed from mother to a newborn baby during childbirth.

How will I feel?

Symptoms of Chlamydia can appear between one and three weeks after having sex. Symptoms can sometimes go away on their without treatment. Most people never have symptoms at all! Girls may feel pain and itching in or around their vagina. Also, there may be vaginal discharge. Girls can also have unusual vaginal or anal bleeding. They can also feel pain when peeing. It can also make it hurt when having sex. 8 out of 10 of infected women will not experience any of these symptoms.

Boys with Chlamydia may have discharge (a kind of liquid) from the head of the penis or anus. Boys can also have pain or itching at the head of the penis. They can feel sometimes feel pain when peeing. Like with girls, 5 out of 10 of men will not experience any symptoms at all.

Even if you do not have symptoms, Chlamydia can still cause health problems and can be spread to others. It's important to get tested and treated!

Getting Tested

Chlamydia tests can be done a couple of different ways. Some of you may have been tested for Chlamydia (and gonorrhea) at your high school by the Health Department. This kind of test needs a urine (pee) sample. Health Centers 1 and 5 use this test. A doctor's office might use the urine test or a swab can be taken of the inside of the penis or vagina. Both tests give accurate results.

What if I'm positive?

If your test comes back positive, Chlamydia can be treated and cured with medicine called antibiotics. It is very important to take all the pills you are given, even if you feel better and do not have any symptoms. Taking all the pills will make sure the germ is completely wiped out. You should not have any sex at all while taking the pills. You should also wait one week following treatment before you have sex. If you don't wait you can still infect other people. You should also tell your sex partner(s) so they can be tested and treated too. Otherwise they might give the infection back to you and/or infect others.

If a Chlamydia infection is not treated, very serious health problems can happen. Females can experience severe problems with having babies in the future. They even might not be able to get pregnant - ever. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a common result of Chlamydia that does not get treated. In PID, the infection spreads from the vagina and into the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. This can scar these areas. This makes it so girls can't get pregnant or have a hard time getting pregnant. The baby might attach to the fallopian tube instead of the uterus, where it's supposed to be. These pregnancies are very dangerous. They can cause death for the baby or the mom.

Having Chlamydia can also make it hard for males to make babies. It could also lead to a swollen prostate gland (prostatitis), scarring inside the penis, or swelling of the balls that is very painful (epididymitis). All of these conditions are VERY PAINFUL. They will require treatments much more extreme than taking pills.

If you have Chlamydia, it is very important to have your sex partner(s) tested and treated for Chlamydia too. If not, they can give the infection back to you and/or infect others. A positive Chlamydia test can also increase your chances of getting or spreading HIV to sex partners.

Not having sex is the only way to be sure you will not get infected with Chlamydia. If you are having sex, use condoms correctly every time to make sure you stay STD free. Just remember, the more sex partners you have, the greater the chance you will get Chlamydia! Get STD check-ups every three to six months (that means at least twice a year, up to four times a year). This makes sure infections like Chlamydia are caught early and treated fast.