Chlamydia 101: Straight talk about the most commonly diagnosed STI - Primary Health

Chlamydia 101: Straight talk about the most commonly diagnosed STI

  • September 13, 2023

  • Adi Chandrasekhar, MD, MPH, FACP

  • 2 minutes

Complications can be severe, but detection and treatment of infections are easy and at-home testing is available.

Chlamydia is the most commonly diagnosed bacterial sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the United States.  In 2021, more than 1.6 million infections were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is likely a huge undercount of the true burden of infection. Chlamydia is also likely an infection few people think of in their daily lives despite its potential complications. 

Chlamydia is spread through oral, anal, or vaginal sex with an infected partner. Infections are often asymptomatic, particularly in men. When urinary symptoms do occur they can include genital discharge or burning sensation with urination. Though uncommon, it can also cause swelling or pain of the testicles.

Complications from infection can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in the uterus and fallopian tubes. This can lead to formation of scar tissue that can cause pelvic pain, infertility, and increased risk of pregnancy outside the uterus (ectopic pregnancy). Notably, pregnant people with infection are at risk of transmission to the baby causing infection in their lungs or eyes.

Chlamydia testing and treatment

Chlamydia infections are easy to treat once detected. The recommended treatment is with oral Doxycycline taken for a week. Patients who are allergic to Doxycycline could use oral Azithromycin as an alternative. It’s also worth noting that you can get an infection again after successful treatment. It is important to wait for a week after treatment ends before becoming sexually active again. 

The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that all sexually active women under the age of 25, and those older than that age but at increased risk, should be screened for chlamydia infection. Fortunately, detection of infection is also easy, using urine samples or swabs from other sites, including those done at home. As we mark Sexual Health Month, take a step towards getting tested and learn how Primary.Health can help you get started!

Disclaimer: This blog content and linked materials are not intended as individual medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, and should not be considered as such. Any readers with medical concerns should contact a licensed healthcare provider. This blog is provided for informational purposes only.