Straight to the Facts: Chlamydia
Caused by sexual contact with an infected person
Most people have no signs or symptoms
If you have symptoms, they can include:
Abnormal discharge from the vagina or penis
Burning during urination
Can be infected in the mouth, vagina, urethra, or anus
Can be spread by oral sex, vaginal sex or anal sex
Tested with a urine test and pelvic exam
Treated with antibiotics
Not getting treated could lead to infertility
Can be passed to baby during birth
Chlamydia is a bacterial STI caused by the microbe Chlamydia trachomatis. It can infect both men and women and can cause serious health effects if it is not treated.
Most people who have a chlamydia infection do not have symptoms, so do not know they are infected. But, even if you have no symptoms, chlamydia can still lead to possible infertility in women or epididymitis in men.
The only way to know for sure that you have chlamydia is to get tested. The CDC recommends that women under the age of 25 get tested every year. If you become pregnant, you should also get tested. The CDC also recommends that men get tested if their partner has chlamydia and for men who have sexual contact with other men.
How Do I know I have it?
Most people who have chlamydia have no symptoms. If you have symptoms, they may not appear until several weeks after you have sex with an infected partner. Symptoms in women include an abnormal vaginal discharge, vaginal bleeding, or a burning sensation when urinating. Symptoms in men include discharge from the penis, a burning sensation when urinating, and pain/swelling in one or both testicles. You should be examined by your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms or if your partner has an STI or symptoms of an STI.
Women under 25, people with multiple sexual partners, and men who have anal sex should get tested regularly for Chlamydia.
How can I get it?
You can get chlamydia by having anal, vaginal, or oral sex with someone who has chlamydia. It can also be passed to the eye by a hand or other body part moistened with infected secretions. If your sex partner is male, you can still get chlamydia even if he does not ejaculate (cum). If you have had chlamydia and were treated in the past, you can still get infected again if you have unprotected sex with someone who has chlamydia. Infections can occur in the throat as a result of oral sex and can be spread to others even if the infection is not present in the anus, vagina or penis. Men and women can get chlamydia in the anus either through anal sex or spread from another infected body part such as the vagina.
How can I get treated?
Chlamydia can be cured with the right antibiotic treatment. It is important that you take all of the medication your doctor prescribes to get rid of the infection. When taken properly, it will stop the infection and can decrease your chances of having complications later on. Repeat infection with chlamydia is common. You should be tested again about three months after you have been treated, even if your partner(s) was treated.
What happens if I do not get treated?
Chlamydia can lead to serious health problems if left untreated and can turn into Pelvic Inflammatory Disorder, or PID. PID can cause permanent damage to a woman’s reproductive organs and cause chronic pain, infertility, and ectopic (tubal) pregnancy. In a small number of people, untreated chlamydia infections can also lead to systemic infections which include eye infections, urinary tract infections, and infections of the joints.
What if I am pregnant?
Pregnant women who have untreated chlamydia can also spread it to their baby during birth. This can cause serious infections in the baby's eyes and lungs. It is important for women who are at risk for chlamydia infections and women who have multiple sexual partners get tested during pregnancy. The CDC recommends that all pregnant women under 25 and women at high risk, including women with new partners or multiple partners, get tested early in their pregnancy. Women under 25, women who continue to be at high risk and women who have previously tested positive in their pregnancy should get tested again.