Sometimes referred to as a ‘silent STI’, Chlamydia is the most common STI in the UK. If left untreated, a Chlamydia infection can have long-term health consequences for both men and women. But what is meant by a ‘silent STI’?

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by bacteria that can be spread by vaginal, penile, oral, or anal sexual contact and intercourse. It is a very common STI, with the most recent statistics indicating that almost half of all new STI diagnoses in the UK are Chlamydia [1].

What is a silent STI?

A silent STI is an infection which presents no symptoms. Most people who have Chlamydia do not exhibit any symptoms indicating an infection. In fact, approximately 75% of women and 50% of men show no symptoms. Therefore, a Chlamydia infection can be left undetected and untreated for a long period of time, damaging the body’s reproductive system in silence.

Can Chlamydia cause any symptoms?

Some people with Chlamydia may experience symptoms such as a burning sensation when urinating. Women may also suffer unusual discharge, pain during sexual intercourse and vaginal bleeding. Men may have an unusual discharge from the penis, inflamed or swollen testicles, and discomfort around the tip of the penis.

Why should I test for Chlamydia?

Getting tested for Chlamydia is the only way to know whether you have the infection. Since Chlamydia often presents no symptoms, the infection can be left undetected for months or even years, during which time you may also pass the infection to your partner(s).

If Chlamydia is left untreated, there is an increased risk of acquiring other STIs, including HIV. In women, Chlamydia can infect the cervix and urinary tract, and can cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) when it reaches the fallopian tubes. This can lead to scar tissue developing within the fallopian tubes which can prevent the passage of eggs from the ovaries to the uterus. These complications can prevent a woman from becoming pregnant.

There is also a greater risk of ectopic pregnancy. If a baby is exposed to Chlamydia during delivery, he or she could suffer from eye infections or pneumonia.

In men, Chlamydia may reduce fertility and lead to other complications of the male reproductive system. Chlamydia can infect the urinary tract causing swelling or inflammation of the testicles.

Is Chlamydia easy to treat?

The good news is that Chlamydia is curable and can be treated with a course of antibiotics. You should abstain from sex until your treatment is finished and ensure that your sexual partners are also treated to avoid re-infecting each other.

Thinking about getting tested for Chlamydia?

For more information about Chlamydia, visit our website. Better2Know can arrange an appointment for you at one of our nationwide clinics. Your sample will be analysed in our accredited laboratory, providing fast, accurate results for your peace of mind. In some locations, we can provide Instant Chlamydia testing with results in 30 minutes while you wait in the clinic.

Don’t want to visit a clinic? Order a home test kit online now.

If you have any queries or concerns surrounding your sexual health, you can contact our highly trained sexual health advisors by phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or send an anonymous message using our live chat.


[1] GOV.UK: Sexually transmitted infections (STIs): annual data tables

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