Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted infection in Sweden, and it’s caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. The infection can spread quite rapidly through unprotected sex. Since 1997 the number of cases of chlamydia has increased steadily. Looking at the population as a whole, the largest increase is in the age group 15-29 years.
How is chlamydia passed on?
Chlamydia is passed on through most types of sexual contact including oral sex, vaginal sex and anal sex. The infection can also be transmitted by 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 realize 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 realize they have chlamydia, it’s important to get tested regularly to monitor your health.
Whether or not you get symptoms, untreated chlamydia can cause joint pains, as well as epididymis and prostate inflammation. 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. Protect yourself during sexual contact by wearing a condom.
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. It is therefore important that you tell them what type(s) of sex that you have had. This will ensure the correct samples are taken. The vagina and penis are tested by giving a urine sample. Make sure you don’t urinate right before giving the sample! The throat and anus are tested by swabbing a small cotton bud against the mucus membrane for a second or two. Testing takes just a few minutes. Testing and treatment are always free of charge in Sweden.
Now there’s even a way of testing yourself at home if you live in Stockholm! Order a test kit from vardguiden.se. Vårdguiden for an even easier way to test your penis or vagina. Don’t forget that you could also have chlamydia in your throat or ass as well. However, to get tested in those spots, you have to go to a clinic.
If you turn out to have chlamydia, you will have to take part in an infection trace. 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 good way of showing consideration for the people you’ve had sex with. It gives them an opportunity to check that they’re healthy. This is what an infection trace is – sounds kinda weird, but it’s actually a great thing.
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. If you have one or more partners, they can also take antibiotics after testing, even if the infection can’t be detected. This stops the infection being spread between you and the person or people you have sex with.