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What is chlamydia?

Chlamydia is an STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease) caused by the spread of bacteria, known as Chlamydia Trachomatis. It is spread when an infected person engages in sexual activity with a non-infected person. If left untreated, chlamydia can cause long term complications such as infertility and reactive arthritis (pain and swelling in your joints).

How do you get chlamydia?

Chlamydia is spread by having sex with an infected individual, or by coming into contact with the genital fluids (semen or vaginal fluid) of an infected individual.


You can get chlamydia by:

  • Unprotected sex (including vaginal, anal and oral)
  • Using sex toys that haven’t been washed after use or protected with a condom before use by an infected person
  • Your genitals coming into contact with an infected person’s genitals, even if there is no penetration or ejaculation.
  • Getting infected genital fluids (vaginal fluid or semen) in your eyes


You cannot get chlamydia from:

  • Kissing, hugging or sharing a bed with an infected individual
  • Toilet seats or swimming pools

What are the symptoms of chlamydia?

Most of the time, chlamydia has no symptoms. This is why it is important to get yourself tested on a regular basis, especially if you have numerous sexual partners. In those that experience symptoms, they usually appear several weeks after contracting the infection.

Symptoms of chlamydia can include:

  • Pain while having sex
  • Pain whilst peeing
  • Pain in the lower stomach
  • Vaginal discharge that is milky white or yellow in colour and may have a strong smell
  • Bleeding in between periods or after sex
  • Discharge from the penis
  • Tender and swollen testicles
  • Pain and discharge from the anus

Just remember that chlamydia symptoms are not always present and it is important to get tested regularly, especially if you have multiple sexual partners.

What happens if you don’t treat chlamydia?

In females, if chlamydia is left untreated, it can spread to the uterus (womb) and the fallopian tubes (the tubes that carry a fertilized egg from the ovaries to the womb ready for pregnancy). Chlamydia in the uterus and fallopian tubes can cause what is known as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). Although PID may not have any symptoms at first, it can lead to long-term pain in the pelvic region and cause permanent damage to your reproductive system. This could affect your ability to get pregnant and may also cause an ectopic pregnancy, a life-threatening situation where a pregnancy occurs outside of the uterus (womb), usually inside the fallopian tubes. If you have chlamydia that has not been treated whilst pregnant, there is a possibility that you could pass the infection onto your child. This can result in the baby developing conjunctivitis (eye infection) or pneumonia (lung infection).

In males, if chlamydia is left untreated, it can spread to the testicles and epididymis (the tube that stores and carries sperm). This can result in your testicles becoming swollen and painful (a condition known as epididymitis). If not treated, it can cause extreme pain and discomfort and may even lead to infertility.

In both males and females, if chlamydia is left untreated, it can cause reactive arthritis. This is a painful condition that causes swelling and stiffness to the joints. After treatment, most people return to normal activity after 6 months.

Can you get rid of chlamydia?

In most cases, you can cure chlamydia quickly with minimal side-effects by taking a short course of antiobiotics. Once you or your partner's diagnosis is confirmed, you should start treatment as soon as possible. Please note that you cannot become immune to catching chlamydia, and if you regularly have different sexual partners, it is important to get tested for chlamydia regularly.

How do you treat chlamydia?

Chlamydia is treated with either azithromycin or doxycycline. Azithromycin only requires two tablets to be taken once, which is usually sufficient enough to treat chlamydia. The other option is taking doxycycline twice a day for one week. This option is usually recommended as it is slightly more effective (by 3%), but it needs to be taken twice a day for one week, and missing any doses can affect the outcome of treatment. It is also used for people who are allergic to azithromycin, or where azithromycin hasn’t fully worked. Doxycycline is also preferred by some people as it is a more cost-effective option, although treatment is taken over one week instead of one day.
Your body is unable to get rid of chlamydia alone and it is important to use antibiotics. Most people experience no side-effects from treatment.
To find out more information, see our Commonly Asked Questions article. 

Does chlamydia treatment work?

Chlamydia treatment has a high success rate and is cured in 97% of people who take antibiotics. It is important not to have sex for one week after treatment, as you still may be contagious. Due to the high success rates of treatment, it's not usually necessary to get retested, however, if you do decide to have another test, you should wait two weeks after having completed your treatment course.

How long does it take to get rid of chlamydia?

Both azithromycin and doxycycline work effectively to get rid of chlamydia and will fight the infection as soon as they are taken. It is important not to have sex throughout the treatment course and for a week after finishing treatment. This is because it can taken up to 7 days after treatment for your body to respond to the antibiotics.

Does chlamydia stay with you for life?

Treatment with antibiotics usually gets rid of chlamydia completely. Unlike herpes, chlamydia does not stay in your system forever. This does not mean that chlamydia cannot come back once you have had it treated, and you should take adequate precautionary measures to protect yourself. We recommend getting yourself tested each time you have a new sexual partner.

When can I have sex again after chlamydia?

If you have chlamydia, you should not have vaginal, oral or anal sex until 7 days after you have finished your treatment course. If you have been tested positive for chlamydia, it is important to let your sexual partner know, so that they can also get treated and avoid re-infecting you with chlamydia once you have completed treatment.

How long will it take for symptoms to go away after treatment?

Symptoms usually disappear within 1-2 weeks after having completed treatment. If symptoms still persist, you may need to visit your GP to have further treatment or to have tests carried out.

What is the difference between azithromycin and doxycycline for treating chlamydia?

Azithromycin only requires one dose of antibiotics to clear the infection, whereas doxycycline requires two doses to be taken daily for one week. Doxycycline may be preferred by some, as research has proven it to be 100% effective in treating chlamydia and it is a cheaper option than azithromycin. However, treatment with doxycycline needs to be taken twice daily over a one-week period. Azithromycin has a 97% success rate in curing chlamydia, but only needs to be taken once as a single dose making it a popular choice for those that may forget to take doses of doxycycline. Doxycycline is also unsuitable for those who are pregnant or breast-feeding, those that have a high exposure to UV rays such as natural sun light and sunbeds or those that have previously experienced a stomach upset from antibiotics. It is also unsuitable for those who have certain medical conditions and those taking certain medication. The medical questionnaire will determine whether doxycycline is suitable for you to take or not.

Is doxycycline or azithromycin more effective in treating chlamydia?

Both treatments are effective in treating chlamydia and have an extremely high success rate. Research suggests that azithromycin has a 97% success rate, and doxycycline has a 100% success rate in treating chlamydia. However, azithromycin is more practical as it only requires two tablets to be taken as a one-off treatment, whereas doxycycline requires two tablets to be taken daily, for 7 days. Any missed doses may have a negative effect on the success of treatment.

How long should I wait before getting retested for chlamydia?

If you wish to get retested for chlamydia, you should atleast two weeks after having completed your treatment. If you have numerous sexual partners, we advise getting tested every three months as a standard precaution. You should definitely get retested for chlamydia if:

  • You have had sex before having completed treatment or within 7 days of having completed treatment
  • You didn’t take your medication as prescribed (e.g. you missed doses)
  • Your symptoms have not disappeared
  • You are pregnant

How can I avoid getting chlamydia?

  • You should use a condom every time you engage in vaginal, oral or anal sex
  • Use a dam (thin piece of soft plastic or latex), to cover the genitals during oral or dry sex
  • Do not share sex toys, or wash them thoroughly before use

Do I need to tell my partner(s)?

It is important to inform your current partner and any other recent sexual partners of your positive diagnosis. This is so that they can also get tested and receive the appropriate treatment, as untreated chlamydia can cause long-term health complications.

Where can I get tested for chlamydia?

You can visit your GP practice who will give you more information on how to get tested. Alternatively, you can visit your local GUM clinic or get tested using an online STD screening service.

Chlamydia Treatment

You can treat chlamydia with a simple and short course of antibiotics, which you can buy online using our registered service. Prices start at £8.49 and we offer a fast and discreet delivery service. This means that you can start treatment as soon as possible and get rid of chlamydia without anybody ever knowing. Medication is sent to a delivery address of your choice in plain and discreet packaging with no reference made to the treatment or service. Simply choose your treatment option, fill out the short questionnaire and checkout. Remember, this is a strictly private and confidential service.