According to statistics, just 10 per cent of people get tested for STIs before entering into a relationship with a new partner. It’s therefore no surprise that chlamydia currently affects around 10 per cent of young people. Often symptomless, it’s most common in those under 25, and can lead to infertility in both women and men. “Each untreated episode carries a fertility risk of up to 20%,” says Dr Eric Asher, GP at The Third Space gym in London.
What is chlamydia?
Chlamydia is caused by a bacterium called chlamydia thracomatis present in the semen or vaginal fluid of those infected. It’s transferred through unprotected sex – vaginal, oral, or anal – and 50 per cent of guys who contract it show no symptoms. The other half of male sufferers can expect a white discharge from their old boy, painful swelling of the plums, burning and itching all around the party zone and acute stinging when urinating.
How do I avoid chlamydia?
Thankfully, doing so is easy: simply use a condom every time you have sex. The National Chlamydia Screening Programme (NCSP) recommends you take a test every year while you’re under 25, and each time you have a new sexual partner both of you should take a test. Once we pass our quarter century most of us have learnt some discretion and stopped having sex with everyone who smiles at us, says Asher. “The general incidence drops from about 10 per cent of the population aged 15-25 to 2-6 per cent for adults.” Still, if you’ve ever had condom-less sex with anyone you aren’t 100% sure is clap-kosher, it’s vital you get tested. Remember, there’s no symptoms half the time.
How do I find out if I’ve got chlamydia?
If you’re under 25, the NHS offer free chlamydia tests. It’s quick and easy. Home testing kits are now available, many of which do not charge. Those over 25 should see their GP or drop into their local Genito-Urinary Medicine (GUM) clinic.
What’s the treatment for chlamydia?
Should you test positive, the most common treatment is a course of antibiotics. Those with symptoms should notice them disappear quickly. If they don’t, seek advice from your GP. Side effects may include increased vulnerability to sunburn, but this is a small price to pay for preserving fertility, says Asher. “Everyone feels a bit off on antibiotics. Live with it.”
For those without symptoms, at least, the worst part of having chlamydia is often the necessity of informing any and all of your coital companions, so they can get tested, too. But don’t panic, however, for help is at hand: the clinic, with your permission, will send an anonymous contact slip informing your sexual partner(s) that they may have been exposed to an STI and should go for a check-up. It’s a cowardly option, akin to dumping someone via text message, but, then, the clap isn’t exactly a noble affliction.