by Claire Taylor
Chlamydia is a bacterium, a microorganism that invades human cells. Like other sexual infections it can enter your body through sexual contact and the exchange of body fluids like semen or vaginal secretions. It is a concern because if undiagnosed and untreated it can cause serious long term problems that it may not be possible to put right. In many cases chlamydia spreads without giving you any symptoms. This characteristic is what gave chlamydia its name: it’s derived from the Greek work for cloak, hinting at its covert, hidden nature of spreading. In fact, three-quarters of all infected females and half of infected males have no idea they’ve got it as they can’t feel anything wrong. This doesn’t mean that it can’t still be spread or can’t cause damage to your body. It most certainly can and a lot of my time in clinic is spent trying to treat women who have been damaged by chlamydia.
If you do get symptoms you typically feel the following within a week or two after getting the infection: females can experience burning or stinging when peeing, lower abdominal pains and/or an unusual vaginal discharge or bleeding. Males can experience a discharge from the penis, obstructed or painful urine flow with burning and stinging, and/or pain and swelling in the testicles.
There’s more. About half of all cases occur in girls between the ages of 15 and 25, and we think that as many as one in ten sexually active teenage girls may be infected. Girls who have sex with more than one person face even greater risk so it is so important that you know about it and get tested for it. If you are getting worried reading this then there is one simple solution: get a chlamydia test. It’s easy to get tested, check freetest.me to find out more. The good news is that if you get tested regularly the condition can be picked up quickly and treatment is easy.