Welcome to the OutUK series looking at gay men and their health brought to you in association with the NHS website.
Each week we'll tackle a different topic in our A to Z of Gay Health. We'll have features and advice on everything from relationships, sexual health, mental and physical conditions and how to stay fit. You can follow any of links provided below for more information direct from the NHS website, or view any of our Previous A to Z Features.
You should also know that OutUK has produced a special report about: Coronavirus Covid-19.

This Week - C : Chlamydia

Chlamydia is 1 of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the UK.

It's passed on through unprotected sex (sex without a condom) and is particularly common in sexually active teenagers and young adults.

If you're a man, sexually active and under 25 in England, it's recommended that you have a chlamydia test once a year if you are not using condoms with new or casual partners.

Most people with chlamydia do not notice any symptoms and do not know they have it.

If you do develop symptoms, you may experience:

  • pain when peeing
  • unusual discharge from the penis or bottom
  • pain and swelling in the testicles

If you think you're at risk of having a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or have any symptoms of chlamydia, visit a GP, community contraceptive service or local genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic to get tested.

Chlamydia is a bacterial infection. The bacteria are usually spread through sex or contact with infected genital fluids such as semen or pre-cum.

You can get chlamydia through:

  • unprotected anal and genital penetrative or oral sex
  • sharing sex toys that are not washed or covered with a new condom each time they're used
  • your genitals coming into contact with your partner's genitals - this means you can get chlamydia from someone even if there's no penetration, orgasm or ejaculation
  • infected semen or pre-cum getting into your eye

Chlamydia cannot be passed on through casual contact, such as kissing and hugging, or from sharing baths, towels, swimming pools, toilet seats or cutlery.

Although chlamydia does not usually cause any symptoms and can normally be treated with a short course of antibiotics, it can be serious if it's not treated early on.

If left untreated, the infection can spread to other parts of your body and lead to long-term health problems.

In men, in rare cases, chlamydia can spread to the testicles and epididymis (tubes that carry sperm from the testicles), causing them to become painful and swollen. This is known as epididymitis or epididymo-orchitis (inflammation of the testicles).

It can also sometimes cause reactive arthritis.

This is why it's important to get tested and treated as soon as possible if you think you might have chlamydia.

Find out more about the complications of chlamydia

Testing for chlamydia is done with a urine test or a swab test.

You do not always need a physical examination by a nurse or doctor.

Anyone can get a free and confidential chlamydia test at a sexual health clinic, a genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic or a GP surgery.

In England, if you're under 25 years old, you may be offered a chlamydia test when you visit some health services, for example a pharmacy or GP. This offer is part of the National Chlamydia Screening Programme (NCSP).

If you're offered a chlamydia test you should consider taking it.

If you're a man, sexually active and under 25 in England, it's recommended that you have a chlamydia test once a year if you are not using condoms with new or casual partners.

You can also buy chlamydia testing kits to do at home.

Find out more about chlamydia diagnosis

Chlamydia can usually be treated easily with antibiotics.

You may be given a course of doxycycline to take for a week or azithromycin to take once a day for 3 days.

If you have doxycycline, you should not have sex (including oral sex) until you and your current sexual partner have finished treatment.

If you have azithromycin, you should wait 7 days after treatment before having sex (including oral sex).

It's important that your current sexual partner and any other recent sexual partners you have had are also tested and treated to help stop the spread of the infection.

Under-25s who have chlamydia should be offered another test 3 to 6 months after being treated.

This is because young adults who test positive for chlamydia are at increased risk of catching it again.

Sexual health or genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics can help you contact your sexual partners.

Either you or the clinic can speak to them, or they can be sent a note advising them to get tested.

The note will not have your name on it, so your confidentiality will be protected.

Anyone who's sexually active can catch chlamydia.

You're most at risk if you have a new sexual partner or do not use a barrier method of contraception, such as a condom, when having sex.

You can help to prevent the spread of chlamydia by:

  • using a condom every time you have penetrative sex
  • using a condom to cover the penis during oral sex
  • not sharing sex toys

If you do share sex toys, wash them or cover them with a new condom between each person who uses them.

Find answers to some common questions about chlamydia:

We'll have more information and advice next week on another topic in our A to Z of Gay Health. We have covered many subjects in this series and you can catch up with all of our Previous A to Z Features.

If you want to find out more about this week's subject you can visit the Original article on the NHS website. If you are worried by any aspect of your health make sure you go and see your doctor or book an appointment at your local clinic.

Photos: LightFieldStudios and one of VladOrlov, Stockcube, darak77, ajr_images or rawpixel.com.

 

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