You may have heard of chlamydia, but many people are not sure what it is. It is an infection caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. Chlamydia spreads quickly but can be cured easily with a single dose of antibiotics. It is passed on through unprotected vaginal, anal and/or oral sex and it affects both men and women.
Although chlamydia is associated with the genitals, it can also affect the eyes and throat. Left untreated it can cause serious long-term damage to your health, sometimes even permanently. If you are a woman, untreated chlamydia can make it difficult or sometimes even impossible to become pregnant. If you are a man it might be the cause of pain but rarely can it prevent you from being able to father children. This is the reason why it's essential to get tested or treated as soon as possible if you think you can have chlamydia.
Chlamydia is easily passed on from one person to another through sexual contact. The Chlamydia bacteria is located in intimate body fluids of infected people (semen in case of men and vaginal secretions in case of women). Collectively these bacteria are parasites that live and thrive in the human body. On arrival, they locate host cells, penetrate them and start multiplying and this way they quickly spread through our system.
You can get the chlamydia bacteria from any type of sex. Remember, it is largely symptomless so your partner may not know he or she has it. Risk factors of the chlamydia infection include:
- non-penetrative sexual contact like touching genitals together may transmit the bacteria,
- sharing sex toys that have not been washed or covered with a new condom between each person's use,
- oral sex without a condom (it can result in getting chlamydia in the throat),
- women who have a chlamydia infection can transmit the disease during natural childbirth to their baby (the chlamydia bacteria can infect the baby's eyes or lungs).
These are the causes we are aware of. However, we do know that it can't be passed on through non-sexual contact such as kissing or from sharing baths, towels or toilet seats.
Even if there has been no ejaculation, pre-ejaculate (or pre-cum) which is the sticky fluid released by the penis during arousal and before orgasm, can be enough to transmit the disease.
Last updated August 5, 2018