Chlamydia is a common infection caused by a type of bacteria which is easily treated. Sometimes there are symptoms, such as pain or irritation, and sometimes the infection is picked up as an incidental finding. Women can get Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) from chlamydia which can cause abdominal pain and fever. Men, if they get symptoms might just get urethral discharge and maybe some discomfort on passing urine. The main dangers of chlamydia relate to untreated infection and this usually causes problems for women, though men can pass the infection around without knowing. Women aged 15-29 years are the most at-risk group in Australia for chlamydia infection. Transmission of chlamydia is easily prevented by condom usage.
Screening Procedure and Treatments
We always screen women who are having a procedure with us, and men if they attend for a sexual health consultation. Chlamydia testing forms part of a sexual health screen for infection.
Screening for chlamydia is easy and can be done on a self-taken swab or urine specimen. This is a “first pass” urine which means the first few millilitres are passed into a container and sent for analysis. If we are performing a pelvic examination on a woman, a swab from the cervix can be taken.
Chlamydia transmission usually occurs through vaginal or anal penetration and can be prevented by condom usage. Treatment is a single dose of antibiotics, and it is recommended that you would be screened 3 months later for reinfection. Contact tracing will be required, as for all STI/STDs; if you have tested positive for chlamydia and had treatment, we recommend you notify any sexual partners you have had from the previous six months. We can help you with this (it can be done anonymously). We can help with screening, diagnosis, treatment and counselling for chlamydia and other types of sexually transmitted infection, even if you have no symptoms but are worried that you may have been exposed, we can help you clarify your risk and undertake appropriate investigations.
Whenever someone tests positive for chlamydia we would always recommend they have a full sexual health screen for other infections too. Other STIs include gonorrhoea and blood borne viruses such as syphilis, HIV and Hepatitis B.
If you have Medicare cover we can bulk bill you for the tests. If you don’t have Medicare cover, then the pathology company will send you a bill. Mostly these costs are reimbursable from your health insurer. If you have not been vaccinated against Hepatitis B or Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) we can do this for you.
Chlamydia and Intrauterine Devices
We prefer all women who are undergoing intrauterine device (IUD) insertion or replacement to have a screen for chlamydia. This is because chlamydia is a common infection, and if it is not detected at the time of IUD insertion, then infection could occur further up in the genital tract. If you test positive for chlamydia but have already had an IUD inserted, then you will be prescribed antibiotics. It is unlikely that you would need to have your IUD removed. IUD removal only happens in the context of severe infection which is not responding to antibiotics.