Chlamydia Prevention

There are certain factors that make a person more likely to contract chlamydia. Risk factors include:

  • Age. Because the cervix of teenage girls and young women (25 years and younger) is not fully matured and is more susceptible to infection, they face a particularly high risk for infection if sexually active.
  • Number of sexual partners. The more sexual partners a person has, the greater her chance of contracting chlamydia.
  • Lack of condom use. People who don't use condoms during sex are at a greater risk of becoming infected.
  • Having a sex partner with a sexually transmitted disease. People who have a sexual partner with a sexually transmitted disease face higher odds of getting chlamydia.
  • Having a sex partner who has not been treated. People with chlamydia whose sexual partners have not been treated are more likely to become reinfected.

There are a number of steps you can take to reduce your risk of getting chlamydia. They include:

  • Practicing abstinence. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid having vaginal, anal or oral sex.
  • Using condoms. Using a condom every time you have sex can lower your risk of contracting chlamydia. For vaginal sex, have your partner use a male latex condom or you can use a female polyurethane condom. For anal sex, make sure your partner uses a male latex condom. For oral sex, use a condom or a dental dam, which is a rubbery material that can be placed over the anus or the vagina before sexual contact.
  • Limiting your number of sexual partners. Having multiple sexual partners increases your risk of getting chlamydia and other sexually transmitted diseases.

If you are sexually active, it is important to be screened regularly, even if you follow the preventive measures listed above. Chlamydia often produces no symptoms, so testing is the best way to make sure you are healthy.

Chlamydia: Treatment Options

Chlamydia can be easily treated and cured with antibiotics such as tetracycline, azithromycin, doxycycline, ofloxacin or erythromycin. Depending on the type of antibiotic chosen, the drugs may be given to you in a single dose or you may have to take the medication over the course of a week. Although penicillin is commonly used to treat other forms of sexually transmitted disease (STD), it is not considered effective in treating chlamydia infections.

If your sexual partner informs you that he or she has chlamydia, contact your doctor right away. Your doctor will want to test you and, if necessary, start your treatment. Your doctor will also want to make sure that you haven't developed any complications from the disease.

If you are pregnant, you can be treated effectively with antibiotics without harming your baby. Pregnant women with chlamydia frequently receive azithromycin or erythromycin, and in some cases amoxicillin is used.

It is important for you to take all prescribed medication as directed by your doctor, even if symptoms are not present or they disappear. Once you are diagnosed with chlamydia, you should also notify all of your current and past sexual partners. This allows them to seek testing and treatment if necessary. Alerting your partners is essential because it can prevent them from transmitting the disease to others.

Because it is possible for you to contract chlamydia again, it is necessary for you to avoid sexual contact until you and your partners have completed treatment.

Usually, you will not need to be retested after completing the prescribed medication unless your symptoms persist or reinfection is suspected. You should contact your physician if your symptoms do not disappear within one to two weeks after your medication is finished.

Last updated 24 March 2012

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