Why Chlamydia Is Called the ‘Silent Infection
One of the most common STIs in Britain, chlamydia is often called the silent infection because many people do not develop any symptoms before passing it on to others.
Like all sexually transmitted infections, chlamydia is transferred from partner to partner through unprotected sex, but unlike some STIs it does not produce noticeable symptoms in many people for weeks, months – or even at all.
Despite this, it can be a serious disease. According to the NHS, if it is not detected early on it can spread to other parts of your body and lead to serious health problems including pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), epididymo-orchitis (inflammation of the testicles), ectopic pregnancy and infertility. It can also sometimes cause reactive arthritis.
How Is It Spread?
Chlamydia affects both men and women, and around 1 in 10 sexually active young people who get tested prove positive.
Chlamydia can only be caught by having sex. However, according to Bexley Sexual Health, this can include oral, anal or vaginal sex, or through sharing sex toys.
Chlamydia is not passed on by casual contact, such as hugging and kissing, or through sharing items such as towels, baths, toilet seats, cutlery or swimming pools.
What Are the Symptoms?
Although some people do not develop symptoms at all, and some only get them weeks or months after being infected, symptoms can include pain on urinating, an unusual discharge, pain or bleeding during sex, or bleeding between periods.
The best way to protect yourself against getting chlamydia is to only have protected sex (that is, using a condom at all times). However, we all make mistakes, so it is important to get tested annually to make sure you don’t have the infection.
You can go to your local health clinic for a test – they are free, quick, non-judgemental and discreet. Testing is carried out with a simple urine test or swab test. You don’t always need a physical examination by a nurse or doctor.
Or, if you’d rather do it yourself, you can get London Chlamydia testing kits from local organisations, such as how can I test myself for Chlamydia?.
So beware of the silent STI – make sure you get tested on a regular basis, then you can protect both yourself and future partners from this potentially dangerous disease.