Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted infection in Sweden, and it’s caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis.
The infection can spread quite easily through unprotected sex. Mostly, chlamydia occurs among young (15-29 years) heterosexual people, but LGBTQI people are also affected.
How is chlamydia passed on?
Chlamydia is passed on through most types of sexual contact including oral, vaginal, and anal sex. The infection can also be transmitted via fingers and sex toys. The incubation time for the infection is short – from around 24 hours to a couple of weeks. The incubation time is the period between your exposure to the bacteria or virus and when the infections break out.
People often don’t realise they have chlamydia because the infection doesn’t always have symptoms. When chlamydia does produce symptoms it’s in the form of burning in the urethra when peeing, and discharge from the urethra, vagina or anus and a general feeling of being unwell. If you have these symptoms, they generally appear a couple of weeks after catching the infection. Since people often don’t realise they have chlamydia, it’s important to get tested regularly to monitor your health.
Whether or not you get symptoms. Untreated chlamydia can lead to salpingitis (inflammation of the Fallopian tubes) and epididymitis which in turn can lead to infertility and problems in connection with pregnancy. Therefore, it’s a good idea to get tested regularly so you can get treatment quickly if you have the infection.
Since chlamydia is a so-called ‘local infection’, it can be found in the throat, vagina, penis, and anus. This is why the health professionals have to test you in all areas. Therefore, it is important that you tell them what type(s) of sex that you have had. This will ensure the correct samples are taken. The urethra is normally tested by giving a urine sample. However, if you have symptoms such as discharge, sampling will be done with a swab. Make sure you don’t urinate right before giving the sample! The throat and rectum are tested with a swab, as well as the cervix. Testing takes just a few minutes. Testing and treatment are always free of charge in Sweden.
If you turn out to have chlamydia, you will have to take part in a contact tracing. In order to find others who may have chlamydia, you’ll be asked who you’ve had sex with recently. It may feel a bit strange, but it’s a way of showing consideration for the people you’ve had sex with. It gives them an opportunity to check that they’re healthy. You can choose to notify your partners in person, but if you prefer not to, the clinic will notify them without divulging who gave their name.
If you’re named as a sexual partner of someone who has caught chlamydia, you are obligated to go and get tested.
Because chlamydia is a bacterial infection, it can be cured with antibiotics. While taking antibiotics, you mustn’t have sex with other people because there’s a risk of transmission.