Image of Kingston


Chlamydia in gay / bisexual men

What is chlamydia?

  • A common sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis –
  • It infects the urethra (urine canal), rectum (back passage) and sometimes the throat or eyes (conjunctivitis).
  • About 50% of men notice burning on passing urine or a discharge from their penis.
  • But up to 50% men do not notice anything wrong – hence it is often known as a ‘silent’ infection.
  • If left untreated chlamydia may lead to infection in the epididymis (tube that carries sperm from the testes).
  • Early treatment will prevent long term problems.
  • If you have Chlamydia we recommend that you should have a full STI screen including an HIV test.


How common is chlamydia?

  • It is the most common bacterial STI in the UK.
  • It is found most frequently in young people under the age of 25 years – 1 in 10 will have it but most will be unaware of their infection.


How do you catch chlamydia?

  • Chlamydia is passed on through sex:
  • unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex (or sharing sex toys) with someone that has chlamydia
  • from an infected mother to her baby at birth
  • sometimes from genitals to fingers to eyes where it may cause conjunctivitis (an eye infection)
  • Chlamydia cannot be caught by kissing, or from swimming pools, saunas or toilet seats.


What would I notice if I had chlamydia?

  • Up to 50% men with chlamydia will not notice anything wrong – but they can still pass the infection on.
  • Men may notice one or more of the following:
  • a burning sensation when passing urine
  • a desire to pass urine more frequently
  • a discharge from the tip of the penis – often clear
  • pain and swelling in the testicles (uncommon)


How do I get tested for chlamydia?

  • At the Wolverton we routinely screen all gay/bisexual men for chlamydia by taking:
  • a urine sample – but you should have not passed urine for at least 1 hour.
  • a rectal swab
  • a throat swab
  • Your results will be ready in 3 days. They will be sent to you via a text message or the nurse may call you.
  • The samples are sent to Kingston Hospital laboratory where a specific NAATS test for chlamydia is done. This is very accurate and will detect over 97% infections correctly.


How is chlamydia treated?

  • Chlamydia can be easily treated with antibiotics.


  • a single dose of azithromycin 1g (4 tablets)


  • a week of doxycycline  capsules 100mg  twice daily
  • All treatments from the Wolverton Centre are free and are given to you in the clinic
  • Both treatments are highly effective – but you need to wait 7 days before having sex again to give the azithromycin time to work.
  • We don’t normally need to do another test to check the chlamydia has gone as long as you have taken your treatment correctly.


What about my partner?

  • Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection so it is important that all current sexual partners either attend the Wolverton, another sexual health clinic to be tested and treated before resuming sex again.
  • Some of your previous partners may also need treatment – the nurse will advise about this.


What problems can untreated chlamydia lead to?

  • Chlamydia sometimes spreads to the epididymis (the tube that carries the sperm from the testes) causing pain in the testicle. Rarely this may affect fertility.
  • These problems can be prevented by early treatment.


Will chlamydia come back again after treatment?

  • Treatment for chlamydia always works – as long as you have taken it correctly and checked that your partner has been tested and treated too.
  • But you could catch chlamydia again so it is important to use condoms with new partners and both get tested for STIs before having sex without a condom.



For more information