When you think about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), you probably think a positive test result
Talking about sexually transmitted infections can be awkward. That’s why record numbers of people are turning to the Internet to find answers to common questions about STIs, including whether you can get chlamydia from bad hygiene.
In this article, you’ll get an answer to this “burning” question and discover more facts about chlamydia.
Understanding Chlamydia Transmission
According to the CDC, chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and it affects approximately 3 million Americans annually. On a global scale, there are 129 million new infections of chlamydia each year. The moral of the story is that if you’ve contracted chlamydia, you’re definitely not alone!
Though you can catch chlamydia at any age, the infection is most prevalent in the 14 to 24-year-old age group. If you’re curious whether you have chlamydia, an STD test, including a 10-panel STD test from Rapid STD Testing can give you results within 24 to 72 hours.
Though chlamydia is an STI, you don’t necessarily have to have to sex to contract it or spread it. That’s because it can also infect the eyes and throat, so coming into contact with an infected object or person can cause spreading.
The disease spreads when chlamydia bacteria come in contact with areas where it can survive and thrive, which is the vaginal area, the anus, the urethra, the throat, and the eyes.
Specifically, you can contract chlamydia in the following ways:
- Genital contact, even without penetration
- Unprotected sex (including oral, vaginal, and anal)
- Sharing unwashed sex toys or sex toys not covered with a condom
- Getting infected fluid, either semen or vaginal, in your eye
Further, the infection can also pass to a fetus during pregnancy.
Contrary to popular belief and some stubborn myths, you can’t catch chlamydia through casual contact such as:
- Hugging and kissing
- Sharing a bathtub or swimming pool
- Toilet seats
- Towels and bedsheets
- Sharing food and drinks
- Plates and silverware
Once you’ve caught chlamydia, you can catch it again. In fact, the risk of reinfection is thought to be higher in repeat cases.
But what about poor hygiene? Can you catch chlamydia if you skip a shower?
The short answer is no. Chlamydia is transmitted between people, so you won’t be able to catch it just because you have less-than-perfect hygiene habits. That being said, bad hygiene can lead to catching chlamydia indirectly.
For example, if you have a habit of swapping sex toys without washing them, you can catch chlamydia. Also, if you have chlamydia and don’t wash your hands after touching your genitals or going to the bathroom, you can spread the infection to your eye.
Diagnosis and Treatment for Chlamydia
Chlamydia is an often silent STI because up to 70% of people are asymptomatic (meaning they have no symptoms). This means that you can contract chlamydia from a partner and spread it without even knowing it!
Typically, chlamydia is not serious, but it can lead to complications if left untreated. This is especially true for women, and the long-term effects of chlamydia could include the following:
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Reactive arthritis
- Increased risk of HIV
For men, serious side effects are also possible, though they are relatively rare. The most common occurrence in men who have contracted chlamydia is a condition called epididymal-orchitis, which is caused by the STI spreading to the testicles. The result is painful swelling and inflammation in this area. Like women, men can also experience reactive arthritis, sterility, and a higher risk of contracting or spreading HIV.
Because chlamydia is a bacterial infection (caused by a bacteria called chlamydia trachomatis), it can be successfully treated with antibiotics. After a course of treatment, you can expect to be 100% free of the infection within about seven to ten days.
There are two different antibiotics that may be prescribed for a chlamydia case:
Doxycycline is taken for an entire week, while azithromycin is taken for three days. Both are considered equally effective, though there is a slight preference among the medical community for doxycycline. While doxycycline is believed to be 100% effective, azithromycin occasionally fails to cure the illness.
When prescribed an antibiotic, it is vital to complete the course of treatment, even if symptoms subside. It’s also recommended to avoid sexual contact until you are cured of the infection. Antibiotics like doxycycline can come with side effects. The most common side effects include:
- Skin sensitivity to sun exposure
Serious side effects like bruising, bleeding, and muscle pain are rare and occur in less than one out of every thousand people.
Getting tested for chlamydia is simple and painless. A Rapid STD test can be done with a swab of the infected area or a urine test. A physical examination by a doctor is often not required.
Testing is essential because, in many cases, men and women can have chlamydia with zero symptoms. When symptoms are present, they tend to mirror those of other STIs. Any symptoms appear within one to three weeks and may include:
- Discomfort, pain, or burning during urination
- Vaginal discharge
- Odorous discharge from the vaginal area, penis, or anus
- Itching in the anus area
- Painful intercourse
- Abdominal pain
- Bleeding between periods
- Bleeding from the anus
- Sore throat, cough, fever
- Eye infections
Preventing the Spread of Chlamydia
Because chlamydia can be spread so easily, taking precautionary measures is necessary to prevent infecting others. Of course, if you have contracted chlamydia, the best course of action is to seek treatment with antibiotics to get a clean bill of sexual health.
Whether you have recently been cured of chlamydia or you are keen to prevent getting infected in the first place, practicing safe sex and taking routine precautions can go a long way to stopping chlamydia in its tracks. If you can avoid being exposed to the disease, that’s ideal, but even if you do contract chlamydia, it’s not the end of the world. The key is to clear the infection with antibiotics and prevent reinfection.
At Rapid STD Testing, we recommend the following best practices for the prevention of the spread of chlamydia:
- Get tested for STIs annually (even if you don’t have any symptoms)
- Get tested whenever you get a new partner
- Practice safe sex, including using a condom during penetrative sex and a dam during oral sex
- Don’t share sex toys
- If you do share sex toys, wash them between partners and put condoms on them
- Avoid having multiple partners
- Avoid douching, which kills the good bacteria that fight infection
If you have symptoms of chlamydia and test positive, it’s also a good idea to speak with your doctor to ensure that there are no long-term complications with your reproductive organs, visions, or any other affected area.
Knowing is Half the Battle
Don’t wait for chlamydia to cause complications like infertility or long-term pain and inflammation. You can find out right away whether you have chlamydia by visiting your closest Rapid STD Testing lab. If you test positive, you can take appropriate measures to inform your partner(s) and adjust your lifestyle to minimize risk factors. And if you’re negative, that’s cause for celebration.
We offer same-day STD testing, so find a nearby location and put the mystery to rest.