Most cases of Chlamydia, providing they are detected before long-term damage is done (this is a particular concern for women sufferers), can be cured by a single course of antibiotics. This doesn't mean that Chlamydia is not a serious STD, it is - it can cause infertility in females. Also, if you catch Chlamydia once and receive treatment, it doesn't mean that you develop immunity, you can still catch Chlamydia again.
If you have Chlamydia symptoms, your first course of action is to see your GP or visit your local GUM clinic as soon as possible. Even if you don't have symptoms, but you have had unprotected sex, you should still go for testing. Many Chlamydia sufferers experience no symptoms at all. If your tests confirm that you do have this STD, your doctor will prescribe you antibiotics. You might receive a single dose antibiotic or a longer course of treatment lasting up to two weeks. 95% of people with Chlamydia will get rid of the disease after one course of treatment if they take their tablets correctly. You must take all the tablets your doctor gives you, if you don't, you risk a recurrence of the Chlamydia infection.
The most common antibiotics used to treat Chlamydia are azithromycin which comes in a single dose, or doxycycline, sometimes called vibramycin, which is taken once or twice a day for at least one week, possibly two. Your doctor will decide which medication is best in your case. Antibiotics can have a number of side effects. You may well be lucky enough not to experience any of these, but some people do report stomach problems, diarrhoea, nausea, etc. Several other types of antibiotics may be used to treat Chlamydia but, as of yet, there is no proven evidence of their effectiveness. Antibiotics make the contraceptive pill less effective.
Being pregnant and having Chlamydia changes your treatment options slightly. Some antibiotics cannot be given to pregnant women. It is still very important to go for treatment if you are pregnant because you could pass the Chlamydia on to your baby. There are certain types of antibiotics which are safe for pregnant women to take.
There are a number of things you can do during and after treatment to ensure that the treatment will be successful. Although technically speaking you could use condoms for the duration of the treatment, if you want to totally be sure of not infecting your partner or being reinfected yourself, the best thing to do is abstain from sex until you are given the all clear. Many people who are treated for this STD get reinfected because their partner has it too but doesn't get treated at the same time. This raises the issue of informing current and past sexual partners that you've been diagnosed with Chlamydia and that they need to go for testing. If you want, your GUM clinic may be able to arrange to pass a ‘contact slip' to inform someone that he or she may have been exposed to Chlamydia. The contact slip is anonymous - the person who receives it will never know that you asked for it to be sent.
If your symptoms persist after you've finished your course of treatment, you should go back to the GUM clinic and get retested - you may need a longer course or a different type of antibiotics. You should consider the benefits of getting yourself tested generally for STDs once every year. Use condoms to avoid having a similar experience again in the future.
Get more information about Chlamydia in our STD forum.