Chlamydia screening

A new service has been launched to increase access to testing for chlamydia, for young people aged 15-24. You can now order a home test kit via text. Simply text CKIT and your name, age and address to 88020 and a free and confidential test kit will be sent to you.

It is easy to collect a specimen or urine in the privacy of your own home: pipette the sample, fill in the form, post direct to the laboratory and await your results in 7-10 days, sent by a discreet text.

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the bacterium chlamydia trachomatis. In the UK, the number of new diagnoses has steadily increased each year since the mid-1990s, and it has now become the most commonly diagnosed STI.

Chlamydia is called the ‘silent’ disease because most people who get it do not have any noticeable symptoms. Around 50% of men and 70-80% of women who get the chlamydia infection will have no symptoms. Many cases of chlamydia remain undiagnosed.

Symptoms

Chlamydia often goes unnoticed due to the lack of noticeable symptoms. Because of this, many cases of chlamydia remain undiagnosed.

Women

In women, genital chlamydia does not always cause symptoms. Signs and symptoms can appear 1-3 weeks after coming into contact with chlamydia, many months later or not until the infection has spread to other parts of your body. Some women may notice:

  • Cystitis (pain when passing urine)
  • A change in their vaginal discharge
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Pain and/or bleeding during sexual intercourse
  • Nleeding after sex
  • Bleeding between periods or heavier periods

If left untreated, the chlamydial infection can spread to the womb and cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). PID is a major cause of infertility, ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage.

 

Men

Symptoms of genital chlamydia are more common in men than in women. Signs and symptoms can appear 1-3 weeks after coming in contact with chlamydia, many months later or not until the infection has spread to other parts of your body.
Some men may notice:

  • A white, cloudy or watery discharge from the tip of the penis
  • Pain when passing urine
  • Pain in the testicles

Some men have mild symptoms that disappear after two or three days. However, after the discomfort disappears, you may still have the chlamydia infection. This means that you can pass it on to a sexual partner. You are at risk of complications such as inflamed and swollen testicles, reactive arthritis and infertility.

Men and women

Very rarely, the chlamydia infection may affect areas other than the genitals in both men and women, such as the rectum, eyes or throat.

If the infection is in the rectum it can cause some discomfort and discharge. In the eyes it can cause pain, swelling, irritation and discharge (conjunctivitis). Infection in the throat is very rare and usually causes no symptoms.

Outlook

The chlamydia infection can be easily diagnosed through a simple swab or urine test. Once diagnosed, it can be treated with antibiotics. Undiagnosed chlamydia can lead to more serious long-term health problems and infertility.

Under 25s can get a free, confidential chlamydia test under the National Chlamydia Screening Programme. People over 25 can visit their GP or a local GUM (genitourinary medicine) or sexual health clinic to arrange a test.