How Do You Get Chlamydia?
How Do You Get Chlamydia?
How do you get chlamydia? This is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the UK and can cause serious health problems in both men and women if left untreated.
Luckily, treatment for chlamydia and other sexually transmitted infections is easily and readily available for anyone who needs it.
However, the symptoms of chlamydia are often easy to miss if you don't know what to look out for. At iPlaySafe, we're passionate about educating people about sexually transmitted infections and breaking down the stigmas of discussing them.
This article will provide all the information that a sexually active woman or man would need to know about how chlamydia is transmitted, the telltale symptoms of STIs, and how to get tested for chlamydia.
How is Chlamydia Transmitted?
Of the eight main types of sexually transmitted infections here in the UK, chlamydia is one of the most common. It is transmitted through unprotected (without a condom) vaginal, anal, or oral sex and is most commonly found in young adults and sexually active teenagers.
Given the sheer volume of chlamydia cases per year in the UK, all sexually active men and women under 25 are advised to undergo annual screening tests when they change sexual partners.
Chlamydia is a bacterial infection commonly spread by direct contact with infected genital fluids (semen or vaginal discharge).
Some of the most common ways of contracting chlamydia include unprotected sex, oral sex, sharing sex toys (which have not been cleaned) and unprotected anal sex.
Alongside these transmission methods, there are also other ways in which you can contract a chlamydia infection, such as coming into contact with your partner's genitals or getting sexual fluids in your eye.
Also, any pregnant women may transmit chlamydia to their babies during childbirth.
You should always get tested for chlamydia by a doctor or by using a home STI test kit either when you change sex partners or are sexually active and notice any classic symptoms.
Untreated chlamydia can potentially lead to serious health problems if the infection is left to develop uninterrupted, allowing it to spread elsewhere in your body.
One such health problem that untreated chlamydia can cause is infertility - in both men and women - and Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), reactive arthritis and epididymal orchitis in men (which is a swelling of the testicles).
However, you should note that despite many popular rumours, you cannot catch chlamydia from casual non-sexual contact such as hugging, kissing, or sitting on a toilet seat.
Can You Catch Chlamydia From Oral Sex?
Although oral sex is a less common way to contract chlamydia, it is still possible.
You are less likely to contract chlamydia through oral sex because the bacteria are more drawn to the genitals than the throat.
As chlamydia bacteria do not commonly form in a person's throat, the likelihood of developing chlamydia from penis-to-mouth intercourse is far less common than through unprotected sex.
Similarly, chlamydia is also rarely spread through the vagina or anus-to-mouth contact. However, again, you should note that (although rare) infection is still possible through this sort of contact.
Can You Catch Chlamydia From Kissing?
One of the most common misconceptions about how chlamydia is transmitted is that you can get it through kissing someone who has it.
This is entirely untrue as kissing someone who has chlamydia has never been linked to any chlamydia Trachomatis infections and should therefore be considered risk-free in that respect.
While kissing is not a recognised transmission method for this infection, there are several other STIs and conditions which you can spread through kissing.
These are spread through contact with open cuts in or around the mouth or saliva and include STIs such as the Herpes Simplex virus and Hepatitis B.
Can You Catch Chlamydia From a Toilet Seat?
Again this is another popular misconception about how this infection is transmitted, as you cannot get it from purely sitting on a toilet seat.
Although there is a theoretical possibility that certain STIs may be passed from one person to another via a toilet seat in a public restroom, the likelihood of this happening is incredibly slim.
The main reason it is almost impossible to get chlamydia from a toilet seat is that chlamydia Trachomatis bacteria live in a person's mucus membranes (such as those found around the mouth, vagina, penis, or anus).
Only when these infected membranes come into contact with someone else's the infection will be passed between partners.
As a toilet seat is an inanimate object that does not have the right conditions for chlamydia Trachomatis bacteria to live and grow, its chances of passing chlamydia between two people is virtually nonexistent.
Can You Catch Chlamydia With a Condom?
The best way to massively reduce the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases is to make sure that you or your partner is wearing a condom every time you have sexual contact.
Condoms are considered up to 98% effective in preventing sexually transmitted diseases or infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea.
However, it should be noted that although a condom massively reduces the risk of you spreading chlamydia to your sexual partner, there is still a chance that the infection will be transmitted.
While using a condom during both vaginal, anal, or oral sex is one of the most effective ways of minimising the risk of catching chlamydia, some other pro-tips could help prevent the spread.
One such tip would be to place a dam or cap - a thin layer of latex - over the female genitals whenever they come into contact with a partner's hands or genitals and not share sex toys without properly cleaning them or covering them with a condom
To help halt the spread of the chlamydia infection, you must contact all your recent sexual partners after a positive test and urge them to get tested for STIs themselves.
As a chlamydia infection is often symptomless but can produce reproductive health complications and pose a risk to pregnancy, getting a diagnosis is essential.
If you are concerned about how an infection may cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, or if your partner is displaying symptoms, there are several places you can turn to for discrete and actionable advice.
STIs are more common than you may think, and getting chlamydia testing and treatment is fast and easy.
Patients should remember never to feel embarrassed or ashamed if they are concerned about chlamydia, as the important thing is that you and your sex partner seek help and treatment from an expert as quickly as possible.
How contagious is chlamydia?
The chlamydia infection is spread by bacteria called chlamydia trachomatis, which is found in the male and female genital tract, anuses and mouths, and is passed between partners during intercourse.
As symptoms often go unnoticed, the risk is that those who have chlamydia pass it on unwittingly to another sexual partner, who then passes it to another - causing it to spread exponentially.
How can you prevent chlamydia?
The most effective way to prevent the spread of chlamydia is to use a condom when engaging in either oral, vaginal or anal sex with your partner.
Similarly, using a dental dam during intercourse can also massively reduce the risk of spreading as it is passed through sexual fluids.
If you and your partner share sex toys, another step you can take to reduce the risk is to clean them before use or cover them up with a new condom every time.
Is chlamydia curable?
Yes, with proper treatment from a recognised health care provider, chlamydia is easily curable.
As chlamydia can lie dormant in both women and men for some time, if you are concerned that you may have contracted the infection (even without showing any symptoms), it is always recommended you book yourself in for a test.
Catching chlamydia early is the best way to prevent it from having any long-term effects on your health, as the longer it goes untreated, the more damage it can potentially cause.
So if in doubt, get yourself checked out even if it's just for peace of mind.
How do you get tested for chlamydia?
Order a home STI test kit through the iPlaySafe website here. You can take your urine and blood samples at home and return to our lab in the pre-paid envelope provided. Your results will be available through the iPlaySafe app within 2-5 working days. If your results are positive, we'll advise you on next steps and how to get treatment.
What's the treatment for chlamydia?
Treatment will involve a course of antibiotics. These may be administered for you to take all of them in one day, or they may be spread out over a week depending on the amount of treatment or the extent of the infection.
While taking antibiotics for a sexually transmitted infection, you and your sexual partner/s mustn't have any sexual contact until you have finished the course.
In cases where the antibiotics are administered over a single day, you and your partner/s should avoid sexual contact for at least a week.