April 16, 2020 3 min read
Do you think you might have chlamydia? At MSH, we know it can be quite scary, but we also know how to diagnose and treat it and will put your mind at ease. Here are some answers to common questions about chlamydia: What is chlamydia? Chlamydia is a bacterial infection caused by Chlamydia Trachomatis. It is a sexually transmitted infection that can be passed on through unprotected sex or sharing sex toys. Chlamydia can affect both men and women and is transmitted through sexual contact with the vagina, penis, mouth or anus of an infected partner. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), chlamydia is one of the most common bacterial STIs in the world. What are the symptoms of chlamydia? The symptoms of chlamydia can be very obvious, but you can also have no symptoms at all! This is the unsettling aspect about chlamydia - most people who have it don’t even know that they have it! In most cases, there is no way to know for sure unless you have a very specific test done. This means that you can have chlamydia without knowing it. In women, the bacteria initially causes infection of the cervix (cervicitis) resulting in an abnormal vaginal discharge or bleeding after sex. The infection can spread from the cervix to the upper genital tract (uterus and fallopian tubes) causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Men with chlamydia can present with urethritis (infection in their urine pipe), causing a penile discharge or discomfort when passing urine. Chlamydia can cause severe complications if left untreated. Read more about the complications of chlamydia here. How do you test for chlamydia? Chlamydia is tested by either taking a urine sample or a swab. For urine testing a sample of your urine is sent to the laboratory to check for the presence of chlamydia. Women can also be tested by taking a swab from your vagina. For men, testing can also be done by inserting a very thin swab into the penis to get a sample of the urethra. It is important not to rely on blood tests for chlamydia since the results can be inconclusive. We understand that it can be difficult to go for STI testing. You are not the first and definitely not the last person that will be tested for STIs at our clinic. We are here to support you. How much does a chlamydia test cost in South Africa? In South Africa, a chlamydia test can cost around R1400 in private practice. The test that we suggest at MSH is a panel of tests for infections that can cause the same symptoms. If you suspect that you might have chlamydia, then you are also at risk of gonorrhoea, trichomoniasis, ureaplasma and mycoplasma. That is why it is better to test for all the infections and not just one. (The prices mentioned are approximate for April 2020.) When you see one of the MSH doctors, we will discuss your full risk profile and probably suggest that you include a blood test for HIV, syphilis and Hepatitis B too. Because of the high cost of the test, we often treat presumptively and according to the syndromic management approach, like they do in government clinics. We believe there is less harm in testing and treating you even though the tests may be expensive, than leaving the chlamydia undiagnosed and untreated. Untreated chlamydia results in serious complications and can spread to other people. What is the treatment for chlamydia? The treatment for chlamydia is one of two very specific antibiotics. In the majority of cases taking a one-time dose of the antibiotic, Azithromycin, should clear the infection. The other alternative is taking Doxycycline for a week. It is very important that your partner also gets treated to prevent the infection being passed back and forth. The symptoms from the infection can take up to two weeks to go away after taking treatment and your test might stay positive. It is best to abstain from sex or use protection during that time. How much does chlamydia treatment cost in South Africa? Chlamydia treatment can be as cheap as R100! Don’t leave it undiagnosed and untreated! These costs are an estimate and can vary depending on the antibiotics prescribed. (The prices mentioned are approximate for April 2020.) Remember, at MSH we understand that it can be very scary to think that you may be infected with an STI. You may think that it is complicated to get tested and treated, but the doctors on the MSH team have helped thousands of people in your position. We offer screening of STIs at our branches in Bryanston (JHB), Pretoria and Cape Town. Click here for more information on STI screening. Dr Jireh Serfontein – Medical Doctor specialising in the field of sexual health medicine. 086 227 7718 www.drjirehserfontein.co.za email@example.com
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