How is Chlamydia Treated?

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Chlamydia is one of the most common curable sexually transmitted diseases in the United States and around the world. Chlamydia infections are treated with antibiotics. There are two recommended regimens for treatment. There are also several alternate regimens where those chlamydia treatments are inappropriate. Which treatment is most appropriate for you will depend on several factors. However, if you think you may have difficulty remembering to take a pill at the same time every day for 7 days, you should ask for a single dose treatment.

The single dose regimen may be slightly more expensive. However, extra expense will likely be offset by not needing to go in for a second round.

The two recommended treatment regimens are considered to be equally effective. The alternative regimens may be necessary for some individuals. Two of these alternates are more expensive (Ofloxacin/Levofloxacin) than the recommended treatment. The third (Erythromycin) may be less effective. This is because Erythromycin makes many people sick to their stomachs. That can affect the way the medication is absorbed.

When you are being treated for chlamydia it is important that your sexual partners are treated as well. If they are not, you could end up passing the infection back and forth between you. You should also abstain from sex for 7 days after the start of treatment. That will help keep you from infecting your sexual partners. If abstaining is not possible, make certain to use condoms for all sexual encounters – including oral sex.

The drug regimens below are taken from the Centers for Disease Control 2015 STD treatment guidelines. Remember that only your doctor can say which treatment is right for you.

Recommended ​Chlamydia Treatment Regim​ens for Non-Pregnant Adults

Azithromycin 1 g orally in a single dose
OR
Doxycycline 100 mg orally twice a day for 7 days​

Alternative ​Chlamydia Treatment Regimens for Non-Pregnant Adults

Erythromycin base 500 mg orally four times a day for 7 days
OR
Erythromycin ethylsuccinate 800 mg orally four times a day for 7 days
OR
Ofloxacin 300 mg orally twice a day for 7 days
OR
Levofloxacin 500 mg orally once daily for 7 days

Recommended ​Chlamydia Treatment ​Regim​ens for Pregnant Adults

Azithromycin 1 g orally in a single dose

Alternative ​Chlamydia Treatment Regimens for Pregnant Adults

Amoxicillin 500 mg orally three times a day for 7 days
OR
Erythromycin base 500 mg orally four times a day for 7 days
OR
Erythromycin base 250 mg orally four times a day for 14 days
OR
Erythromycin ethylsuccinate 
800 mg orally four times a day for 7 days
OR
Erythromycin ethylsuccinate 400 mg orally twice a day for 14 days

Note: Pregnant women should not take doxycycline, ofloxacin, or levofloxacin. Azithromycin is considered to be both safe and effective.

Do People Need to Be Re-Tested for Chlamydia After Treatment?

Follow-up is not recommended for non-pregnant patients with chlamydia. The drugs are highly effective, and treatment failure is rare. However, if you have been diagnosed with chlamydia during pregnancy, you should return to your doctor for a check-up 3 weeks after you’re done with treatment.

That is because untreated chlamydia has potentially serious consequences for your pregnancy and your unborn child. Follow-up testing allows doctors to be certain both that treatment has worked and that a pregnant person has not been re-infected. 

Is There a Chlamydia Shot?

Many people wonder if there's a chlamydia shot. By this, some people mean a shot for chlamydia treatment, while others mean a shot that can be used to prevent chlamydia. Unfortunately, the answer to both questions is no. There is not currently a chlamydia shot to prevent or treat infections. While scientists are attempting to develop a vaccine for chlamydia, they have not yet been successful.

Due to its unusual biology, it has been difficult for scientists to find a good target for a chlamydia vaccine.

As for the treatments for chlamydia, they are usually given by mouth. For most people, that's much easier than receiving a chlamydia shot. That's particularly true since there are single-dose treatment regimens available. Single dose treatment is easier for both patients and doctors. Patients only have to take one pill, and doctors are less concerned about whether patients will take their chlamydia treatment correctly. As such, single dose treatments are a good option, as long as people aren't sensitive to the antibiotics that can be dosed in that way. 

Sources:

O'Meara CP, Armitage CW, Andrew DW, Kollipara A, Lycke NY, Potter AA, Gerdts V, Petrovsky N, Beagley KW. Multistage vaccines containing outer membrane, type III secretion system and inclusion membrane proteins protects against a Chlamydia genital tract infection and pathology. Vaccine. 2017 Jul 5;35(31):3883-3888. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2017.05.063.

Workowski KA, Bolan GA; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines, 2015. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2015 Jun 5;64(RR-03):1-137. Erratum in: MMWR Recomm Rep. 2015 Aug 28;64(33):924.

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