What is Chlamydia?
Chlamydia trachomatis is a bacteria that infects the lining of the urethra (urine tube inside the penis), and rectum. It can also infect non-genital areas including the eyes and throat. This is the most common sexually transmitted disease STD in developed countries and includes Singapore. It is also the leading cause of infectious blindness in the world.
What kind of sexual activity puts you at risk?
Any type of intercourse will put you at risk and includes anal and oral intercourse. Among those that engage in receptive anal and oral sex screened for rectal chlamydial infection, positivity ranged from 3.0% to 10.5 and 0.5% to 2.3% respectively.
If your partner has been recently diagnosed with chlamydia infection, it is likely that you are infected too.
Basically, Chlamydia is transmitted via what we call “site to site” infection. So if your partner has Chlamydia of the throat and goes down on you, you will likely get Chlamydia in your penis. If your partner has Chlamydia in the penis and tops you, you will likely get Chlamydia in your anus. Etc etc.
What are the symptoms of a Chlamydia infection?
No. In fact at least 40 to 50% of men do not develop any symptoms. For those who do end up developing symptoms, it may include penile discharge, itchiness, rash on the penis and burning sensation when you pass urine.
People who have receptive anal intercourse and acquired the infection may present with pain, rectal discharge, or bleeding in the anus. Those that engaged in oral sex and acquired the infection may present with a sore throat.
In a nutshell, these are the red flags for you to look out for:
Chlamydia symptoms in men
1.) Itching, burning or discharge from the urethra (urine tube inside the penis)
2.) Discomfort or discharge of the rectum. Sometimes, it feels like you need to go poop all the time and the area just feels wet no matter how much you clean.
3.) A sore throat that does not go away despite visits to your doctor and taking conventional antibiotics
If you have any of the above, you may have Chlamydia.
If you have NONE of the above you MAY STILL HAVE Chlamydia.
How do we test for Chlamydia?
Nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) is the most sensitive test for detecting chlamydia infections. NAATs can be performed on urethral, pharyngeal, rectal, or urine samples. For persons who engage in receptive oral and anal intercourse, oropharyngeal and rectal swabs may be obtained.
So think about it. Which part of you has come into contact with your partner?
Your mouth? Then you need a throat swab
Your penis? You need a urine test
Your anus? You need a rectal swab
Testing for Chlamydia is site-specific. In other words, you have to test each site for infection. There is no “one test” that can detect Chlamydia in all parts of the body.
See OUR SPECIFIC STD SCREENING PACKAGE
Remember your sex partners over the 60 days prior to the onset of symptoms or diagnosis should be referred for evaluation, testing, and treatment.
Can Chlamydia be cured?
Yes, when diagnosed early, it can be easily treated with antibiotics. However, you are encouraged to abstain from sexual contact until you and your sex partners have finished one of the recommended treatments.
You may recommence sexual activity 7 days after the appropriate treatment was administered.
Sometimes, doctors will ask you to go back for a retest to make sure it is gone before you start having sex again.
Also, please inform your partner to get treated. The last thing you want is to ping pong the infection between you and your partner and having to go back for multiple treatments.
Is seeking treatment for Chlamydia alone without testing suffice for people who present with symptoms?
There are many other sexually transmitted diseases that can present with similar symptoms and treatment may vary.
Therefore, treating presumably for chlamydia without testing may lead to a delay in initiating the right treatment and in turn lead to complications.
So ideally doctors would want to test before treating.
What are the potential complications if untreated?
For urethral infections, it may ascend up to the testes and cause a potentially damaging infection known as epididymoorchitis, resulting in infertility. Besides that, the bacteria can also infect the prostate gland which may result in pain during or after sex, fever, painful urination or pain radiating to the back of the anal region.
This infection may also increase a person’s susceptibility to HIV if the partner is HIV positive.
Chlamydia can also lead to a condition called Reiters Syndrome which causes pain passing urine and red eyes.
How to prevent yourself from getting this infection?
The best way to prevent is by abstaining or being in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship. In addition, the use of condoms, not only during anal intercourse but oral intercourse, has been shown to reduce the risk of transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) such as chlamydia.