Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the UK. With the number of infected continuing to rise Chlamydia is fast becoming an epidemic, especially in the under 25s. In 2009 88% of women and 69% of men diagnosed were under 25.

Do I have Chlamydia?
Chlamydia rarely shows any symptoms. You and your partner could be infected and not have a clue. The few who experience symptoms may expect an unusual discharge, pain during sex and bleeding after sex for women. Men may experience discharge from the penis, pain when urinating and painful swelling of the testicles if the infection has been left untreated.

Symptoms If left untreated, chlamydia can cause long- term problems in women such as chronic pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). It is estimated that 10 - 30% of women infected with chlamydia will develop pelvic inflammatory disease. PID causes pain and damage to the Fallopian tubes. These tubes carry the egg to the womb and if damaged, can cause problems with fertility. In men, it is thought that the infection affects the movement of sperm, thus causing problems with male fertility.

Symptoms include:

  • Pain when passing water.
  • An unusual or unpleasant discharge from the vagina or penis.
  • Pain in the tummy
  • Bleeding between periods or after sex in women.

Chlamydia is easily treated with antibiotics. Current and previous sexual partners also need treating to prevent the spread of infection

Prevention is better than a cure!
Use condoms! When used properly and consistently condoms help to protect against infection with chlamydia and other sexually transmitted infection. Chlamydia has an alarming re-infection rate, with one in ten of all 15-24 year olds diagnosed in 2009 being re-infected within a year. Ideally you should be tested for Chlamydia couple of times a year, or every time you change sexual partners.

If you are concerned that you may be infected with chlamydia, make an appointment at your local genitourinary clinic (GUC). Visit for a list of all NHS sexual health clinics. The tests are easily performed and treatment is simple. Remember, you can reduce the risk of later complications by early detection.

Further information on all sexual infections is available on 0800 567 123 or from Health Protection Agency.

Should I be tested?
Yes! If you have never been tested and have had unprotected sex you should be tested for Chlamydia. The infection can lead to fertility problems in both men and women. It can also cause Reiterís syndrome, a form of arthritis if left untreated. As there is virtually no way of telling yourself if you have Chlamydia it is extremely important to take action and get tested. Itís not just your health at risk, itís your partners and any other future partners you and they may have!

What can I expect from being tested? Being tested for Chlamydia is easy and itís also possible to test yourself at home for free. An online service such as offers completely free and confidential Chlamydia testing for 16-24 year olds depending on where you live in England. If you opt for a service like this you will be sent a home test kit which includes either a swab or urine test. You then test yourself and send the sample to a lab through the freepost package provided. Results can be sent to you via text message. Home testing is an embarrassment-free way to check your sexual health. Alternatively, local GUM clinics are available around the country to carry out Chlamydia testing as well as all the other various STI checks.

Further information

Comprehensive reference and education - academic for those interested

This article published on
01 October 2010

Next review date 10/1/2013


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