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What Is Chlamydia?

Chlamydia (kluh-MID-ee-uh) is a common, curable sexually transmitted disease (STD). Treatment can stop the spread of the infection and help prevent long-lasting problems.

What Are STDs?

STDs (also called sexually transmitted infections or STIs) are infections that spread through sex (vaginal, oral, or anal). Some STDs can spread through close contact with the genitals or body fluids.

How Do People Get Chlamydia?

Chlamydia spreads through sex (vaginal, oral, or anal) with someone who has the infection. Most people with chlamydia don’t have symptoms, so they may spread the infection without realizing it.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Chlamydia?

Chlamydia usually doesn't cause symptoms. If it does, they can include:

What Causes Chlamydia?

A type of bacteria, Chlamydia trachomatis, causes chlamydia.

How Is Chlamydia Diagnosed?

To find out if someone has chlamydia, health care providers do tests on:

  • fluid or discharge from the vagina, urethra, eye, or anus
  • urine (pee)

How Is Chlamydia Treated?

Health care providers treat chlamydia with antibiotics. It is important to get tested again 3 months after treatment to make sure the infection is cured (even if there are no symptoms).

For the infection to go away, someone needs to:

  • Take the antibiotics exactly as prescribed. They should not stop taking the medicine early because the infection could come back.
  • Tell all partners from the last 2 months to get tested and treated (even if they don’t have symptoms).
  • Not have sex until they and their partners are treated and any symptoms of chlamydia are gone (such as pain in the lower belly; fever; unusual discharge from the vagina, penis, or anus; and pain when peeing).

People can get chlamydia again if:

  • Their partners aren't treated with antibiotics.
  • They get treated but then have sex with someone else who has chlamydia.

What Problems Can Happen?

If it's not treated, chlamydia can lead to:

  • in girls: pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can damage the reproductive system
  • in guys: swelling in the testicles and tubes at the back of the testicles
  • infertility: trouble getting pregnant (for girls) or getting someone pregnant (for guys)

Can Chlamydia Be Prevented?

The only way to prevent chlamydia and other STDs is to not have sex (oral, vaginal, or anal).

If someone decides to have sex, they can lower their risk of getting an STD by:

  • using a latex condom every time they have sex (vaginal, oral, or anal)
  • getting tested with any new partners before having sex
  • only having sex with one partner (who doesn’t have sex with other people)

Anyone who is sexually active should get tested for STDs every year (or more often if recommended by their health care provider).

Reviewed by: Amy W. Anzilotti, MD
Date Reviewed: Jan 10, 2022

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