What is it?
Chlamydia is the most common STI in Australia and is caused by bacteria (Chlamydia trachomatis). Chlamydia can cause infections of the urethra (the tube that runs through your penis), the throat or the anus.
How do you get it?
You can get chlamydia in your penis (urethra) or anus through giving or receiving anal sex, or in the throat through oral sex. Although uncommon, you can also get infected in your penis through oral sex and in your anus through fingering and fisting. It is possible to have chlamydia more than once.
What are the symptoms or signs?
Symptoms can include:
- A watery, white or grey discharge from your penis which is most noticeable in the morning
- Itching or pain in the opening of your penis which often fades after you piss
- Irritation or soreness around the urethra
- Pain in the testicles or anus
- Pain when you ejaculate
Symptoms usually appear between two and 14 days after being exposed, but may take as long as 21 days; however it is quite common to have no symptoms, or for the symptoms to go unnoticed, especially in the throat or anus.
Most men do not have any symptoms. Left untreated chlamydia can cause infertility.
A medical practitioner can diagnose chlamydia by swabbing the throat or anus. Testing for urethral infection is usually done through a urine test; however, if you have symptoms a urethral swab may be required.
How is it treated?
Chlamydia is treated with a course of antibiotics. If you had sex while you were infected with chlamydia your sexual partners may also need to be tested and possibly treated.
How can it be prevented?
Using condoms can reduce the risk of transmission if the infected area, for example penis or anus, is covered. However condoms may not always cover the infected area so there is a high chance of passing on chlamydia even when condoms are used.
HIV and Chlamydia
If you are HIV-positive, chlamydia greatly increases the viral load in semen. This means that it is easier to pass HIV on to other people while you have chlamydia.
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