Chlamydia infection, often simply known as chlamydia, is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacterium chlamydia trachomatis.
Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the UK. If left untreated it can affect fertility in men and women. There are approximately 5,000 cases of uncomplicated chlamydia diagnosed in Wales each year, about 10% of those tested are positive.
Chlamydia is most common in under 25s. 1 in 10 young people who are sexually active are thought to have chlamydia.
Chlamydia is sometimes described as a ‘silent’ infection. This is due to the fact that about 75% of women with chlamydia and 50% of men don’t have any obvious signs or symptoms.
If you do develop symptoms, you may experience:
It is passed on through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex, sharing sex toys or genital-to-genital contact. The only way to protect yourself is to use condoms every time you have sex.
Always use a condom. You can get free condoms from the sexual health clinic. Condoms are the best way to protect yourself and others from chlamydia and other STIs, including HIV. If you haven’t liked using condoms in the past try different ones, there are many different varieties now designed to increase pleasure and sensation.
Get regularly tested for chlamydia if you have more than one sexual partner. Talk to your doctor about your sex life and how often you should be tested for chlamydia (and other STIs).
If you’ve had chlamydia once, you can get it again – and again. That’s why it’s important to get tested regularly, especially if you have a lot of casual sex.
You should go and get advice from your GP or at your local sexual health clinic.
Whether you need support before or after having a chlamydia test, it is available on the NHS Direct Wales website. You can also seek advice from your GP or at your local sexual health clinic.
The best place to get tested for chlamydia is in any of the integrated sexual health services. Information on where your local integrated sexual health services are can be found at NHS Direct Wales.
In addition, chlamydia self-testing kits are available online and on the high street. Before using a self-test kit, make sure it has a CE quality assurance mark. This means that, provided you use it correctly, the kit will work properly and is safe.
No self-test kit is 100% reliable, and a CE mark is still no guarantee that a particular home test is suitable for you. If you do a self-test for chlamydia and the result is positive, it's important that you contact a health professional as soon as possible and get the emotional and medical support you need.