Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the UK – last year over 200,000 people were tested positive for the STI. Unfortunately, if left untreated the infection can lead to longer-term health problems for women.
Today, Dr Helen Webberley, the dedicated GP for Oxford Online Pharmacy, answers our questions about chlamydia and periods - and how they impact each other.
Can chlamydia and periods mess with one another?
“Chlamydia won’t affect your period directly but it can cause health issues which can impact your menstrual cycle and cause irregularities. It can cause bleeding between periods and after sex, and these are symptoms you should never ignore.”
What are the other symptoms of chlamydia?
“Often the infection is asymptomatic, which means it can come and go without the person ever knowing they were infected in the first place. The quicker chlamydia is treated, the less long-term damage it is likely to cause. For those who do experience symptoms, these usually include; in women: abnormal vaginal discharge or bleeding, soreness, inflammation and itching around the vagina, together with pain or discomfort when passing urine or having sex. For men can be associated with a white discharge coming from the penis, pain and swelling around the testicles and discomfort during urination or ejaculation.”
How is chlamydia diagnosed?
“Regular screening will ensure that if you do contract an STI it can be dealt with immediately, clearing the infection before it can do any long lasting damage. If you have a new partner and are having unprotected sex, ensuring you are in full sexual health will also give you both peace of mind. You can get tested either in a sexual health clinic, at your surgery or even through a home testing kit from your online pharmacy, which can be a great option if anonymity is a factor.”
I’ve heard chlamydia can affect fertility, is that true?
“Chlamydia can make it harder to get pregnant naturally, because it can cause scarring to the fallopian tubes making it more difficult for the egg to pass through. It can also cause scarring to the internal tubes of the penis, though this is rare.”
Is it easy to treat?
“Yes. But if you do test positive, full STI screening is recommended as often exposure to one STI increases your risk for exposure to others. Treatment should be sought as soon as possible for you and any recent partners and will involve a course of antibiotics.”