Over 186,000 new cases were diagnosed in 2011. It is caused by bacteria called Chlamydia Trachomatis which is passed on through unprotected vaginal sex, anal sex or oral sex and through sharing sex toys. The bacteria live inside cells of the urethra, rectum, cervix and sometimes the eyes and throat.

Approximately 70 – 80 % (seven to eight out of ten or majority) of women and (50%) half of men show no symptoms of the disease after infection.  

What are the symptoms of chlamydia?

Symptoms typically appear between 1 and 3 weeks after infection, however, some patients have no symptoms at all.

For women:

  • Heavier or irregular periods
  • An unusual vaginal discharge
  • Pain and/or bleeding during sex
  • Lower abdominal pain 
  • Feeling of burning while urinating

For men:

  • A white/cloudy discharge
  • Painful testicles
  • Feeling of burning while urinating 

Infection in the rectum rarely show symptoms, but there may be a discharge and some discomfort.

Infection in the throat rarely shows symptoms.

Infection in the eyes can cause pain redness, irritation and discharge.

How is Chlamydia diagnosed?

Chlamydia is diagnosed from a urine sample or a swab taken from the cervix, anus, urethra or throat. It is best tested 14 days after having unprotected sexual intercourse. This test is available at all Nuffield Health Wellbeing gyms.

Why should Chlamydia be treated?

The effects of Chlamydia on the reproductive system can be devastating. Left untreated, Chlamydia can spread to the female organs and cause blocked fallopian tubes and infertility. Chlamydia infection is also associated with an increased risk of ectopic (tubal) pregnancy, miscarriage and premature delivery. In men, it can cause painful inflammation of the testicles and possibly reduced fertility.  

How is Chlamydia treated?

Chlamydia is easily treated with antibiotics. It is important to complete the course of medication and avoid sexual activity with your partner until both of you have been successfully treated. 

Do I have to tell my partner?

It is important to notify your sexual partners to protect them against the possible complications of an untreated chlamydia infection. We can provide you with anonymous contact slips to prompt your partners to get tested. If you don’t feel comfortable notifying your partners yourself, your local NHS Sexual Health (GUM) clinic can help with partner tracing and notification.

To download this information as a factsheet please click here.