Dr Phil: Chlamydia (video)
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Hello there, I’m Dr Phil. Today we’re going to be talking about Chlamydia, or ‘chlamydial’ as we call it here in Bristol.
Chlamydia is the commonest sexually transmitted infection, particularly in those under 25: in fact, as my consultant used to say, if you haven’t caught Chlamydia by the age of 25, you haven’t been trying hard enough. One of the problems with Chlamydia is that one of the commonest symptoms of an infection is no symptoms at all. Quite confusing to get your head around this, because you assume that if you had a dose of something, you’d know about it, but particularly in women, 75% of women don’t know they’ve got it and 50% of blokes. So you can’t assume that you’ll get symptoms. If you do get symptoms of this bacterial infection caused by Chlamydia trichomatis (if you need to blag that name about and sound clever), the symptoms you might get as a women, you might be a little bit of bleeding in between periods, you might get a bit of pain, you might get a bit of discharge. Blokes too occasionally get a bit of discharge. If it stays where it is, it doesn’t tend to do much harm, but the problem with Chlamydia is that it can travel, so if you’re a woman, it can travel up and affect your fallopian tubes and affect your fertility, cause something called pelvic inflammatory disease, if you’re a bloke it can also spread it can go into your balls, you get swollen bollocks, epididymitis, which is the sperm collecting tubes, that can all swell up, which isn’t nice, and occasionally you can get something called Reiter’s syndrome, which can also affect your joints: there have been a number of professional footballers whose careers have been jeopardised because they had unprotected sex, caught Chlamydia, and then developed joint problems and then couldn’t play football. So another good reason for always using condoms, the best preventative method to stop you getting Chlamydia.
I was at a conference recently and some wonderful nurses from Exeter ran up to me afterwards and said ‘Dr Phil, we’d like you to model these, they’re swanky pants or swankies’. These are pants with a condom pocket on the front, which is fine, very trendy in Exeter. The slight problem I have is that the condom for me doesn’t fit in there terribly easily so they might have to widen the pocket slightly, and of course if you leave the condom in there and your mum puts them through the wash, you end up with a well washed condom, which may not work quite as well. So some slight design errors here but that’s a nice idea. Condoms: the best way of preventing nearly all sexually transmitted infections.
However, nothing to be ashamed of, if you do get an infection, a single dose of antibiotics will sort it out. Even better, the screening test for Chlamydia now, which you can get free every year if you’re under 25, on the NHS, is very simple. Women just have to swab themselves, so you can do it yourself, nobody goes near you if you don’t want to. You can ask someone to do the swab if you prefer but you can pop away, swab yourself in your vagina. Blokes just have to pee in a pot. You can send it off and in some areas you can get the results texted back. Clearly, until you’ve got your results, it’s best not to have sex with anyone. If you do have Chlamydia, tell your mates you’ve had sex with, your girlfriends, your boyfriends, and get them treated too. And it really is that simple. Chlamydia: get it sorted.
Dr Phil Hammond is a medical doctor, comedian and commentator on health issues.
Written by: Dr Phil Hammond
Edited by: Dr Phil Hammond
Last updated: Friday, November 9th 2012
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