What is Anal Chlamydia?
Chlamydia is the most commonly-reported sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the country, especially in women 25 and under. A lot of people don’t realize that they could be infected anywhere beyond the genital region. Anal (or rectal) chlamydia diagnoses have been increasing among gay men, from 3 to 10 percent in recent years, according to the Centers for Disease Control. They’re also rising in the female population since more women are experimenting and having anal sex with male partners.
Here’s everything you need to know about chlamydia in your anus and why it’s so important to get an anal chlamydia test right away if you’ve engaged in any type of anal sexual play.
How Do You Get Anal Chlamydia?
We all (hopefully) know that testing for common sexually transmitted infections is a critical step for maintaining good health. But when is an anal chlamydia test necessary? If you have engaged in oral or anal sex, you can contract chlamydia in the mouth or rectum. Unfortunately, a special test is required to diagnose oral and rectal chlamydia. To be completely sure of your status, an Extragenital, or “3-Site” test is recommended.
If you’ve engaged in anal sex with a man, you should get an anal chlamydia test. You should take an anal chlamydia test if someone with chlamydia performs oral sex on your anus or touches their mouth and then your anus. You can be infected with chlamydia even if he doesn’t ejaculate. That’s because the bacterial infection is spread in semen (cum), pre-cum and vaginal fluids. It’s easy for chlamydia to permeate the skin around the anus and your anal canal if you have unprotected anal sex.
Any exchange of bodily fluids with someone who has chlamydia and direct contact with your anus— mouth and finger action included—could cause a rectal chlamydia infection if they have this STI.
Women are more likely to get anal chlamydia if their partners don’t wear condoms during anal sex. Both parties might be looser with using condoms since they’re less concerned about pregnancy. Make sure your partner slips on a condom during any kind of sex. Using latex condoms is the best way to prevent getting anal chlamydia. When you’re transitioning from vaginal sex to anal sex, or vice versa, put a new condom on every time.
At this point, you’re probably wondering what symptoms indicate that you have chlamydia in the rectum. You should be aware that even when a person is infected, there is a still a significant possibility that there will not be any easily detectable visible signs. For this reason, regular testing is the key to a clean bill of health.
If you’ve ever had anal sex, it’s imperative that you get a rectal chlamydia test to find out if you have this STI. Chlamydia doesn’t always exhibit symptoms, which is why you need to get tested often.
With genital chlamydia, symptoms vary for men and women. Fortunately, everyone has a rectum, so we’re all on equal ground. These are the most common detectable signs of chlamydia in the rectum:
- Anal itching, burning or soreness
- Anal discharge (yellow or grayish)
- Painful bowel movements
- Rectal bleeding
- Rectal pain due to inflammation
- Diarrhea (like a stomach bug)
For men, pain in the testes and scrotum area may indicate that the infection has spread.
For women, pain in the abdomen, feeling nauseated, or having a fever indicate the infection spread.
You’re at a higher risk of getting or giving HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, if you have chlamydia and don’t get treated. Since sexually transmitted infections and diseases are associated with an increasing HIV prevalence, effective treatment for a rectal infection like anal chlamydia is very important to reduce the chances of contracting HIV.
Anal Chlamydia Test Options
You can test for anal chlamydia using your health-care provider or by using an at-home testing kit. They’ll swab your anus and the surrounding area as part of a chlamydia culture test. The swab samples will be sent off to a lab for results in about a week.
In order to know whether you have anal chlamydia, you need to use an Extragenital test. Many people miss this specialized screening because they don’t give their doctor the necessary information needed to do a proper test. This is often out of embarrassment of opening up about your sexual activity, namely oral and anal sex.
What If My Test Results are Positive?
If your test results come back positive, tell your partner right away. This way, they will take an anal chlamydia test, as quickly as possible. It’s pretty easy to get infected with chlamydia again—even after treatment—so make sure you take an anal chlamydia test again within three months. As we mentioned above, effective treatment for an infection like rectal chlamydia is important for HIV control and shouldn’t be delayed. Your doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics to get rid of the infection.
Women and Anal Chlamydia
Women should talk to their gynecologists or their primary care doctors since the symptoms aren’t always treated the same way across the board.
An untreated chlamydia infection can cause serious, permanent damage to a woman’s reproductive system. This can make it impossible for her to get pregnant. In addition, these untreated infections can lead to serious complications such as life-threatening pregnancy outside the womb, and long-term pelvic or abdominal pain.
Test and then Re-Test for Anal Chlamydia
Get tested for this STI every three months; particularly if you’ve had more than one partner, or unprotected sex. You should get a rectal chlamydia test even if you’re in a committed relationship and both said you’re STI-free when you started dating. Using latex condoms is the best way to prevent a rectal chlamydia infection.
- Patterns of Extragenital Chlamydia and Gonorrhea in Women and Men Who Have Sex with Men Reporting a History of Receptive Anal Intercourse. Sexually Transmitted Diseases. 2016. .
- The Natural History of Untreated Chlamydia trachomatis Infection in the Interval Between Screening and Returning for Treatment. Sexually Transmitted Diseases. 2008. .
- Diagnosis and Management of Uncomplicated Chlamydia trachomatis Infections in Adolescents and Adults: Summary of Evidence Reviewed for the 2010 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines. Clinical Infectious Diseases.. 2010. .