What does chlamydia treatment involve?
Chlamydia treatment is straightforward and easy to obtain. As chlamydia is a bacterial infection, therapy involves a course of antibiotics that usually clears up the problem very quickly. Antibiotics used routinely in chlamydia treatment include:
Azithromycin – this is given as a single dose, which is fast acting and eliminates all chlamydia bacteria from the body within 5-7 days. This course of chlamydia treatment is useful for people who have difficulty taking medicines regularly but it is more expensive than other antibiotics.
Doxycycline – a cheaper chlamydia treatment that needs to be taken regularly over a period of one or two weeks; tablets must be taken at twice daily at roughly the same time each day.
Erythromycin, Ofloxacin and Amoxicillin are usually prescribed as chlamydia treatment in women who are pregnant. For effective chlamydia treatment, tablets should be taken regularly, as directed, until the course is finished.
It is vital that you and your partner complete your chlamydia treatment at the same time; if one of you remains infected and you start to have sex again, the other partner can easily become re-infected.
Side effects of chlamydia treatment
Like all medicines, the antibiotics used in chlamydia treatment can have adverse effects. As well as causing stomach upsets and diarrhoea, the antibiotics listed can also interfere with the absorption of the contraceptive pill. Avoiding sex during chlamydia treatment is essential to avoid passing on the infection, but it is important to continue taking your contraceptive pill and then use an additional method of contraception for at least 7 days after you finish your chlamydia treatment course.
If you are prescribed Doxycycline you will also be advised to keep out of the sun – not a problem in winter so much, but if it is summer, or you are going on holiday while still taking your chlamydia treatment, exposure to sunlight can cause you to develop a skin rash.
Why chlamydia treatment is important
Many people who get infected by chlamydia don’t show any symptoms – so they question why it is necessary to get tested and to take antibiotics. Most people don’t want to take medications they don’t really need but when it comes to chlamydia treatment, delaying taking action can be the worst thing you can do.
Although it is true that most chlamydia infections don’t cause obvious illness, particularly in women, delaying chlamydia treatment increases your risk of developing complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease. The bacteria that cause chlamydia ‘hide’ in the cells that line the fallopian tubes and, over time, cause an inflammatory response that can block the tubes. Although most women don’t feel ill initially, the infection can lead to infertility later in life, with scarring and pain. Even if the fallopian tubes are only partially blocked, any pregnancy that does occur is more likely to implant inside the fallopian tube rather than in the uterus. Such a pregnancy is described as ectopic and can be life threatening as internal bleeding and shock can occur when the growing foetus ruptures the tube.
In men, chlamydia infection can affect the testicles, causing inflammation and pain, and can also cause male infertility. The longer the infection lasts, the more likely it is that chlamydia will have a serious impact on sexual health in both sexes.