Chlamydia in gay / bisexual men
What is chlamydia?
- A common sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis –
- It infects the urethra (urine canal), rectum (back passage) and sometimes the throat or eyes (conjunctivitis).
- About 50% of men notice burning on passing urine or a discharge from their penis.
- But up to 50% men do not notice anything wrong – hence it is often known as a ‘silent’ infection.
- If left untreated chlamydia may lead to infection in the epididymis (tube that carries sperm from the testes).
- Early treatment will prevent long term problems.
- If you have Chlamydia we recommend that you should have a full STI screen including an HIV test.
How common is chlamydia?
- It is the most common bacterial STI in the UK.
- It is found most frequently in young people under the age of 25 years – 1 in 10 will have it but most will be unaware of their infection.
How do you catch chlamydia?
- Chlamydia is passed on through sex:
- unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex (or sharing sex toys) with someone that has chlamydia
- from an infected mother to her baby at birth
- sometimes from genitals to fingers to eyes where it may cause conjunctivitis (an eye infection)
- Chlamydia cannot be caught by kissing, or from swimming pools, saunas or toilet seats.
What would I notice if I had chlamydia?
- Up to 50% men with chlamydia will not notice anything wrong – but they can still pass the infection on.
- Men may notice one or more of the following:
- a burning sensation when passing urine
- a desire to pass urine more frequently
- a discharge from the tip of the penis – often clear
- pain and swelling in the testicles (uncommon)
How do I get tested for chlamydia?
- At the Wolverton we routinely screen all gay/bisexual men for chlamydia by taking:
- a urine sample – but you should have not passed urine for at least 1 hour.
- a rectal swab
- a throat swab
- Your results will be ready in 3 days. They will be sent to you via a text message or the nurse may call you.
- The samples are sent to Kingston Hospital laboratory where a specific NAATS test for chlamydia is done. This is very accurate and will detect over 97% infections correctly.
How is chlamydia treated?
- Chlamydia can be easily treated with antibiotics.
- a single dose of azithromycin 1g (4 tablets)
- a week of doxycycline capsules 100mg twice daily
- All treatments from the Wolverton Centre are free and are given to you in the clinic
- Both treatments are highly effective – but you need to wait 7 days before having sex again to give the azithromycin time to work.
- We don’t normally need to do another test to check the chlamydia has gone as long as you have taken your treatment correctly.
What about my partner?
- Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection so it is important that all current sexual partners either attend the Wolverton, another sexual health clinic to be tested and treated before resuming sex again.
- Some of your previous partners may also need treatment – the nurse will advise about this.
What problems can untreated chlamydia lead to?
- Chlamydia sometimes spreads to the epididymis (the tube that carries the sperm from the testes) causing pain in the testicle. Rarely this may affect fertility.
- These problems can be prevented by early treatment.
Will chlamydia come back again after treatment?
- Treatment for chlamydia always works – as long as you have taken it correctly and checked that your partner has been tested and treated too.
- But you could catch chlamydia again so it is important to use condoms with new partners and both get tested for STIs before having sex without a condom.