Chlamydia is a bacterial sexually transmitted infection caused by the strain of bacteria known as chlamydia trachomatis. This condition is, without doubt, the most common STI in the United Kingdom with more than 200.000 new cases being reported to GUM and STI clinics every year. The prevalence of chlamydia is even more strongly emphasized when we take into account that the total number of new cases reported annually is roughly equal to number of reported cases of all other STDs combined.
While this condition can affect anyone who is sexually active, chlamydia is significantly more common in young people, aged 18 to 24 as compared to other age groups, and in women, as compared to men.
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Do I have chlamydia?
Despite being so common, chlamydia can be surprisingly hard to diagnose unless you attend regular STI tests. This is so because the condition can remain asymptomatic for prolonged periods of time. More specifically, as much as 50% of all men affected and staggering 80% of women affected show absolutely no signs of infection, making it exceptionally easy to remain undetected for as long as no symptoms manifest.
However, when symptoms do manifest, they can still remain pretty unspecific, making it hard to pinpoint the exact nature of the issue without a proper STI test. Women may experience painful urination, increased menstrual bleeding or changes in vaginal discharge, while man will notice penile discharge, urinary pain and pain in testicles.
If left untreated, even when asymptomatic, the condition can cause significant complications, most notably, pelvic inflammatory disease in women and infertility in both sexes.
How can avoid getting chlamydia?
As a sexually transmitted infection, chlamydia is, as is evident, typically transmitted through unprotected sex, with multiple sex partners being a significant contributing factor to exponential increase of the risk. Unsafe sex in this context denotes vaginal, oral or anal sex without proper protection, but the same can be said for sharing of sex toys. Each of this practices can cause chlamydia to be passed from one person to another.
The name of this condition is derived from ancient Greek word χλαμύδα which means “cloak”. This choice was made, in part, because this infection has the ability to “hide” in the cells of the host, thus going unnoticed for long periods of time. As it is a bacterial infection, chlamydia spreads and replicates within a human body when the bacterial cells multiply and increase in number.
As such, chlamydia is vulnerable to antibiotic treatment, which is very good news! All the dangers associated with this condition can be easily mitigated with proper and timely medication. Through the mechanism of action typical of all antibiotics, medicines prescribed for the treatment of chlamydia will breach the membranes of the bacterial cells while rendering them incapable of synthesizing the enzymes necessary for multiplication. Once this occurs, the immune system can easily fight off the infection, completely eliminating chlamydia from the organism.
However, in order to get proper and timely treatment you first need to get diagnosed with this condition. As mentioned, chlamydia is often asymptomatic while present and multiplying in the body, so waiting for symptoms to manifest probably isn’t the best course of action. On the contrary, if there is any reason to suspect you might have been infected, you should get tested as soon as possible.
In order to do this, you can either visit your local GUM or STI clinic, as a more traditional route or, alternatively, you can order an STI test kit meant to be used in the comfort of your own home. In either case, you will need to get a confirmation of your diagnosis prior to seeking out treatment from a medical professional. Again, this can be done either conventionally, through making an appointment with your general practitioner, asking for gynaecologist or urologist examination and then visiting a pharmacy, or by simply contacting an online clinic, going through short online consultations and getting your medicines delivered right to your doorstep.
What types of chlamydia treatment are there?
So-called first line treatments, the primary and most commonly prescribed methods include antibiotic medicines Azithromycin and Doxycycline. If they cannot be used for some reason (such as allergic reaction to either of those medicines), Erythromycin is usually issued instead.
The doctors’ preference for Azithromycin is well-founded. This medicine is administered as a single dose which can rapidly get the infection under control. Very effective and with very side little side effects, Azithromycin has been used in chlamydia treatment for some time now, which lead to the emergence of new strains of chlamydia-causing bacteria that are surprisingly resilient to Azithromycin. This led some scientists to speculate that Doxycycline should be used as a first choice instead, in order to compensate for this.
Doxycycline is just as effective as Azithromycin, but it does come with somewhat more pronounced side effects, most notably, mild nausea. However, the biggest disadvantage of this medicine as compared to one-off Azithromycin is that it needs to be taken daily for a period of seven days.
Side effects of chlamydia treatments
Since this condition can be treated by various antibiotics, most of the side effects will vary depending on the exact type and brand you might be using. In order to obtain the most precise information regarding side effects of chlamydia treatment of your choice, take a look at the official patient information pamphlet that is issued within every box of antibiotics.
Can I buy chlamydia treatment online in the UK?
It is doubtful that over-the-counter antibiotics can do the trick when it comes to chlamydia, so you cannot buy chlamydia treatment without a valid prescription. However, prescription can be obtained fairly easily – if you would really prefer to avoid talking to doctor about your sexual health face-to-face, you can always obtain an at-home STI testing kit, and order your medicine from an online clinic if you tested positive. Both of these processes can be easily accomplished online.