Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by bacteria. A person must take an antibiotic regimen to get rid of the infection.

Antibiotics are an effective therapy to cure chlamydia. A doctor has several options of antibiotics they can try and will provide a person with the best option for their needs.

This article reviews the treatment options a doctor may recommend for chlamydia.

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Chlamydia is a bacterial STI. This means a person can contract it from someone during oral, anal, or vaginal sex.

Though anyone can get it, it is most common in sexually active people ages 24 years or younger. Having multiple sexual partners and not wearing protection, such as condoms, can increase a person’s risk of contracting the infection.

Chlamydia does not usually cause any symptoms.

If a person does experience symptoms, they can include:

Learn more

Learn more about chlamydia.

Both the Worldwide Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend either azithromycin or doxycycline as first-line treatments for chlamydia.

Though both are effective, the CDC notes that doxycycline may be slightly more effective.

A 2015 study reported similar results, noting that people who took azithromycin had a 97% effectiveness rate in curing the infection while doxycycline had a 100% effectiveness rate.

A person should work with a doctor to determine the best treatment option. Some people may not be able to take the recommended medications and may need to take another type of antibiotic.

Doxycycline is a type of antibiotic often prescribed for chlamydia infections.

The CDC notes it effectively treats the infection at various sites, including the anus, penis, vagina, and mouth.

How to take it

Doxycycline is an orally administered medication.

A person typically takes it as 100-milligram (mg) tablets twice daily for 7 days.

Side effects

Common side effects associated with doxycycline can include:

It can also cause less common but serious side effects, which can include:

Cost

Though costs can vary by location and insurance coverage, the CDC notes that each 100 mg tablet costs about .02 cents.

Azithromycin is another type of antibiotic that the WHO and CDC recommend for the treatment of chlamydia. It is the preferred option for treatment during pregnancy.

How to take it

Azithromycin is an oral medication. It is typically prescribed as a single-dose, 1-gram (g) tablet.

Side effects

Though generally safe, azithromycin can cause side effects such as:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also posted a safety announcement in 2013 warning of the risks of azithromycin potentially leading to fatal heart rhythms.

Doctors should take care when prescribing azithromycin, assessing a person’s medical history before recommending it.

Cost

Though costs can vary, the average estimated cost of azithromycin is about $0.16 per 250 mg tablet.

Amoxicillin may be a good option to treat chlamydia infection in pregnant people. A doctor may also prescribe it if the person has had allergic or other reactions to other mainline treatments for the infection.

Amoxicillin is a good alternative option for treatment during pregnancy if the person cannot take azithromycin.

However, some strands of chlamydia can develop a resistance to the medication. This can make it less effective.

How to take it

A person takes amoxicillin orally. The dosing is typically 500 mg oral tablets 3 times daily for 7 days.

Side effects

Amoxicillin is generally well tolerated. However, some people may develop side effects such as:

  • vomiting
  • nausea
  • headache
  • changes in taste
  • diarrhea

Some people may have a potentially life threatening allergic reaction and let the prescribing doctor know if they have had any adverse reactions.

Cost

Amoxicillin costs can vary. Insurance, generic vs. brand name, and dosing can affect the price.

A person who has trouble paying for the medication should ask their pharmacist about discounts or programs to help pay for it.

The CDC no longer recommends erythromycin for chlamydia treatment. The reason for this is the report of unpleasant gastrointestinal (GI) side effects.

GI side effects can lead to people skipping doses, resulting in incomplete treatment.

How to take it

The typical dose for chlamydia is 500 mg oral tablet twice a day for 7 days. However, a doctor may recommend a different dosage in some cases.

Side effects

Erythromycin is associated with GI side effects. Higher doses increase the risk.

Some common side effects can include:

Cost

The cost of erythromycin can vary based on location, generic or brand name, and insurance coverage.

A person should talk with a doctor or pharmacist about ways to lower their costs if needed.

The table below compares the different medications healthcare professionals use to treat chlamydia.

MedicationHow to takeCDC-recommended for chlamydia?Side effectsEffectivenessSafe for sex?Cost
Doxycycline100 mg tablets two times per day for 7 daysYes.• diarrhea
• nausea
• vaginal yeast infection
• vomiting
• increased sensitivity of the skin to sunlight
100% effectivesafe following 7-day treatment or 7 days after one doseabout $0.02 per 100-mg tablet
Azithromycin1 gram tablet in a single doseYes.• diarrhea
• headache
• nausea
• abdominal pain
• vomiting
about 97% effectiveshould abstain from sex for 7 days following treatment$0.16 per 250 mg tablet
Amoxicillin500 mg oral tablet 3 times per day for 7 daysYes.• vomiting
• nausea
• rash
• vaginal yeast infection
• diarrhea
maybe less effective due to resistant strains of bacteriashould abstain for 7 days during treatmentvaries
Erythromycin500 mg oral tablet twice a day for 7 daysNo, due to GI side effects.• vomiting
• nausea
• diarrhea
• stomach cramping
• abdominal pain
• loss of appetite
may be less effective due to non-adherence to treatmentshould abstain for 7 days during treatmentvaries

Modern treatment options for chlamydia can typically clear an infection within 7 days. A person should consider the following during treatment:

  • avoid sexual intercourse of any type during treatment, including vaginal, anal, and oral, or for 7 days following a single dose treatment
  • have partner(s) get tested and receive treatment
  • finish the prescribed medication and take as directed

Failure to take these steps can result in reinfection, a non-cured infection, and spreading it to others.

Chlamydia is a bacterial infection and requires antibiotics to cure. There are several different options, though a doctor will likely prescribe the medication best for the person.

During treatment, a person should abstain from sexual contact with others. They should also follow all instructions for taking the medication.