Navigate Up

Seniors Center - A-Z Index

#
Q
Y
Z

Print This Page

Chlamydia infections in women

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). This means chlamydia is passed from one person to another during sexual contact.

Causes

Chlamydia is caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis. Both males and females may have chlamydia without having any symptoms. As a result, you may become infected or pass the infection to your partner without knowing it.

You are more likely to become infected with chlamydia if you have:

  • Sex without using a condom
  • Had multiple sexual partners
  • Been infected with chlamydia before

Symptoms

Most women do not have symptoms. But some have:

  • Burning when they urinate
  • Pain in the lower part of the belly, possibly with fever
  • Painful intercourse
  • Vaginal discharge or bleeding after intercourse

Exam and Tests

If you have symptoms of a chlamydia infection, your health care provider will collect a culture or perform a test called a nucleic acid amplification test.

In the past, testing required a pelvic exam by a health care provider. Today, very accurate tests can be done on urine samples or on vaginal swabs a woman can collect herself.

  • Results take 1 - 2 days to come back.
  • Your health care provider may also check you for other types of sexually transmitted infections, such as gonorrhea , HIV, syphilis, hepatitis, and herpes.

Even if you have no symptoms, you may need a chlamydia test if you:

  • Are 25 years old or younger and are sexually active (get tested every year)
  • Have a new sexual partner or more than one partner

Treatment

Chlamydia can be treated with antibiotics. Some of these are safe to take if you are pregnant. Common side effects include nausea, upset stomach, and diarrhea.

Both you and your partner need to take the antibiotics and finish all of them, even if you feel better and still have some left. All of your sexual partners must take the antibiotics, even if they do not have symptoms. This will prevent you from passing the infection back and forth.

Because gonorrhea often occurs with chlamydia, treatment for gonorrhea is often given at the same time.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Antibiotic treatment almost always works if you and your partner take the medicines as directed.

If chlamydia spreads into your uterus, it can cause scarring and make it harder for you to get pregnant. You can help prevent this by:

  • Finishing your antibiotics when you are treated
  • Making sure your sexual partners also take antibiotics
  • Talking to your health care provider about being tested for chlamydia and seeing your health care provider if you have symptoms
  • Wearing condoms and practicing safe sex

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Make an appointment with your health care provider if you have symptoms of chlamydia.

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommendations for laboratory-based detection of Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae, 2014. MMWR 2014;63(No. RR-2):1 - 24.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines. 2010. MMWR. 2010;59(RR-12):1-110.

Geisler WM. Diseases caused by chlamydiae. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 326.

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for chlamydial infection: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. Ann Intern Med. 2007;147:128-134.

Updated: 6/13/2014

Cynthia D White, MD, Fellow American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Group Health Cooperative, Bellevue, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.


©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

© UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com