Think you may have been exposed to chlamydia? Here’s what you need to know.

What is chlamydia?

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by bacteria. The bacteria infect the urethra, which is the tube that carries urine and semen through the penis. Chlamydia can also infect the anus or throat. Chlamydia is one of the most common STIs.

Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) is a form of chlamydia that is made up of more invasive strains than the more common types of chlamydia. While fairly rare, there have been outbreaks of LGV in numerous cities. LGV Tests for chlamydia also detect LGV and can be treated by antibiotics.

How is chlamydia spread?

Chlamydia is spread very easily. It can be picked up or passed on through anal or oral sex.

 How do I know if I have chlamydia?

  • Symptoms arrive one to two weeks after infection. Chlamydia produces a burning sensation during urination, or sometimes a pus-like discharge from the penis. Some guys get a painful swelling of the testicles called epididymitis.
  • Guys who have bottomed with a chlamydia-infected partner often experience anal discomfort or discharge. In rare cases, chlamydia can appear in the throats of men who perform oral sex on guys infected with chlamydia.
  • Many guys who are infected with chlamydia don’t have any symptoms. If you think you’ve been exposed to chlamydia, get tested.

How do I test for chlamydia?

Be honest with a health care professional about your sexual history and symptoms, and ask for a physical exam. You may be asked for a urine sample; some fluid may be collected from your penis.

 What do I do if I have chlamydia?

  • If you test positive for chlamydia, you’ll get a prescription for antibiotics. Follow the instructions closely and make sure you take all the prescribed pills. If you skip some pills, or don’t finish them all, the infection may not be cured.
  • Don’t have sex while you’re being treated, and don’t have sex until at least a week after your treatment is finished.
  • Having chlamydia once will not make you immune to another infection. You could be reinfected if you are exposed again.
  • Talk to the guys you’ve had oral or anal sex with during the past couple of months so they can be examined, tested and treated.

 How do I protect myself?

  • Regular use of condoms will reduce your chances of picking up or passing on chlamydia and other STIs.
  • Limiting the number of guys you have sex with will also reduce your risk. If you have lots of partners, get tested regularly.
  • Don’t have sex with a guy if he has chlamydia symptoms, or if he is being treated for chlamydia.

 Chlamydia and HIV

  • Regular use of condoms will reduce the risk of picking up or passing on both chlamydia and HIV.
  • Having any STI or having sex with someone who has an STI will increase your risk of picking up HIV.
  • If you already have HIV, having chlamydia may increase your viral load increasing the chances that you’ll pass HIV on to others.