What is chlamydia?
Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and is caused by the bacteria chlamydia trachomatis. Never heard of Chlamydia before? That is not surprising, because even though it is one of the most common STIs, Chlamydia most often has no symptoms. In this blog we want to give a broad overview of what Chlamydia is, how you can get it, and how to treat it.
As with many other STIs, Chlamydia is transmitted through sexual intercourse or contact with infected genital fluids. Additionally, it is also possible for pregnant women to transmit chlamydia to their children during labour. This can cause serious eye infections or pneumonia. In summary, you can contract Chlamydia through the following types of contact:
- Having unprotected oral, vaginal, or anal sex
- Getting infected vaginal fluid or semen into your eye
- Sharing sex toys that were not washed or protected with a condom beforehand
Source: NHS, 2022
Factors that increase your risk of Chlamydia
There are multiple factors that can increase an individual’s chances of getting Chlamydia. These factors include:
- Having unprotected sex
- Having a history of STIs
- Being sexually active before the age of 25
- Having more than one sex partner
Source: Mayo Clinic
Activities that will not transmit Chlamydia
There are many myths about how one can catch Chlamydia and regarding contact with people who are infected. Other than hugging and kissing, the following actions pose zero risk for contracting Chlamydia:
- Sharing a towel
- Sharing a bathtub or shower
- Visiting a public swimming pool
- Using a public or shared restroom
Can you catch Chlamydia without having sex?
Apart from being infected during childbirth, you cannot catch Chlamydia without some type of sexual contact. However, you can catch Chlamydia without any penetrative sex, as exposure to genital fluids is enough to transmit Chlamydia. Therefore, hugging is not considered a risk activity, but hugging naked or oral sex could be a risk activity.
Can you get Chlamydia multiple times?
Yes, you can. While Chlamydia is easy to treat, it is not possible to become immune against Chlamydia bacteria and multiple infections can occur (CDC, 2022). Therefore, it is crucial to use a condom when having sex with a partner who has not been recently tested, and get tested yourself on a regular basis.
How can I test for Chlamydia?
If you have had unprotected sex or are with a new partner, you should consider doing a Homed-IQ Chlamydia test at home. This way, your test is completely anonymous, and no doctor or nurse is involved. There are two versions of the Chlamydia test; a urine test for infections of the penis, and a swab test for vaginal infections.
How to treat Chlamydia
As easy as you can get Chlamydia, as easy it is to treat it. Chlamydia is treated easily with antibiotics. You may be prescribed seven days of doxycycline or a three-day course of azithromycin (NHS, 2022). If you are prescribed doxycycline, you should refrain from having intercourse (which also includes oral sex) until you have finished your treatment. With azithromycin, you should wait 7 days before having intercourse (also including oral sex). To help halt the spread of the infection, it’s critical that your present sexual partner and any other recent sexual partners are also tested and treated if needed. In the Netherlands, it is possible to anonymously warn your partner with https://partnerwaarschuwing.nl/. In the event of a positive result, Homed-IQ can coordinate a code to be generated to use this service.
Myths about Chlamydia
As mentioned earlier, there are many myths and misconceptions about Chlamydia.
Myth #1: You can catch Chlamydia by sharing food or a drink with an infected partner
- This is not true. You cannot get Chlamydia by sharing food or drinks with an infected partner. Saliva does not transmit Chlamydia.
Myth #2: You can get Chlamydia from kissing an infected partner
- No, you will not catch Chlamydia from kissing an infected partner. However, it is possible to contract Chlamydia through oral sex because it involves exposure to semen or vaginal fluid.
Myth #3: You can get Chlamydia from a public or shared restroom
- No, this is not possible. Only direct sexual contact with infected partners can transmit it.
Myth #4: You can catch Chlamydia in a public swimming pool or a hot tub
- This is also impossible. You cannot catch Chlamydia from a public swimming pool or by sharing a hot tub.
Knowing the facts about sexual health and getting tested regularly is key to staying healthy and safe. Click here to view Homed-IQ’s full range of sexual health tests.
Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. (2024). Detailed STD Facts – Chlamydia. https://www.cdc.gov/std/chlamydia/stdfact-chlamydia-detailed.htm
Chlamydia trachomatis – Symptoms and causes. (2022, February 11). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chlamydia/symptoms-causes/syc-20355349
NHS website. (2022, June 24). Chlamydia. nhs.uk. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/chlamydia/