Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria. Chlamydia can affect anyone who is sexually active, regardless of gender. Chlamydia is contracted through sexual contact and is transmitted through semen and vaginal discharge.
You cannot catch chlamydia from kissing alone. You should always contact a doctor if you suspect you have chlamydia or have had sexual contact with someone with it.
What Is Chlamydia?
Chlamydia is the most common bacterial STI. It often it causes no symptoms, meaning you can pass it to sexual partners without knowing it. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is estimated that 1 in 20 sexually active young women aged 14-24 years has chlamydia.
Chlamydia can affect the vagina, penis, or rectal area. Chlamydia spreads through vaginal, anal, and oral sex, and you are more likely to contract it if you do not use a condom.
It’s critical to get treatment for chlamydia because chlamydia can cause complications such as Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), infections in newborns, ectopic pregnancy, infertility, reactive arthritis, prostate gland infection, and an infection near the testicles called epididymitis.
Symptoms of Chlamydia
Symptoms of chlamydia differ depending on your anatomy; however, most chlamydia symptoms show up within several weeks after exposure.
Chlamydia symptoms in women:
- Abnormal vaginal discharge
- Itching or burning in or around your vagina
- Painful periods
- Bleeding in between periods
- Abdominal pain with a fever
- Pain during sex
- Bleeding after sex
- Pain when you urinate
- Blood in your poop
- Rectal pain, discharge, or bleeding
Chlamydia symptoms in men:
- Cloudy or clear discharge from the tip of your penis
- Painful urination
- Pain and swelling around your testicles
- Rectal pain, discharge, or bleeding
- Blood in your poop
Can You Catch Chlamydia From Kissing?
It’s a common myth that you can catch chlamydia from tongue kissing. Whether you kiss with tongue or not, kissing cannot spread chlamydia. Chlamydia is not spread by casual contact, such as sharing food or drinks, kissing, or holding hands.
How does chlamydia spread?
Chlamydia spreads through having unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone infected with the Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria. It can also spread from using sex toys that have not been washed between use. Chlamydia can be spread between partners even if orgasm or ejaculation does not occur. Chlamydia can also be spread to an infant through childbirth.
It is still possible to get chlamydia if you have had it before, so it is essential to contact your doctor right away if you or your partner are experiencing any symptoms associated with chlamydia.
What Can You Catch From Kissing?
While you cannot catch chlamydia from kissing, it is possible to get other conditions by kissing, such as:
- Herpes simplex virus (HSV-1), otherwise known as cold sores or fever blisters
- Herpes-simplex virus (HSV-2), or genital herpes
- The common cold, COVID-19, or other viruses
- Epstein-Barr virus, which causes mononucleosis
- Hepatitis B, if open sores are present
How To Prevent Chlamydia?
Chlamydia can be prevented by abstaining from sexual activity, but if you are sexually active, you can reduce your chances of getting it by:
- Using condoms for vaginal and anal sex
- Using dental dams for oral sex
- Limiting sex partners
- Being in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship
- Getting regular screenings
How To Treat Chlamydia?
The good news is chlamydia is very treatable with antibiotics. Doctors diagnose chlamydia through laboratory tests, such as urine screenings and vaginal swabs to test for the bacteria that causes chlamydia.
There are two antibiotics commonly prescribed for chlamydia:
A doctor may prescribe other antibiotics, such as erythromycin or amoxicillin, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
If you have chlamydia, you may be wondering when you can have sex again. If you were prescribed doxycycline, it’s crucial to avoid having sex until you and your partner(s) have completed treatment. If you are prescribed azithromycin, you should wait seven days after starting the medicine before having sex again.
Tips For Safe Kissing
- Avoid kissing when sick with a cold, the flu, or another virus such as COVID-19
- Avoid kissing if you or the other person has a cold sore, warts, or open wounds around the mouth
- Maintain good oral hygiene
When Should You Consult a Doctor?
You should consult a doctor if you have been exposed to someone with chlamydia or if you have symptoms of chlamydia, such as a burning sensation while urinating or unusual discharge from the vagina or penis. A doctor can order the proper tests to diagnose and treat your chlamydia infection.
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Chlamydia is the most common STI in the United States. It is a very treatable condition; however, if left untreated, it can lead to various complications that can be as serious as infertility and ectopic pregnancies.
Chlamydia affects people of all ages but is most common in young women. Chlamydia is spread by vaginal, oral, and anal sex. It does not spread through casual contact, such as holding hands or kissing.
Chlamydia is easily treated with antibiotics such as doxycycline and azithromycin. Ways to prevent chlamydia include abstaining from sex, limiting sexual partners, being in a mutually monogamous relationship, and using protection during vaginal, anal, or oral sex.
If you have symptoms of chlamydia, you should always consult a doctor and refrain from having sex until you determine whether or not you have an STI.
- Bébéar, C., & de Barbeyrac, B. (2009). Genital Chlamydia trachomatis infections. Clinical Microbiology and Infection: the Official Publication of the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, 15(1), 4–10. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-0691.2008.02647.x
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, April 12). Std Facts – Chlamydia. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved July 7, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/std/chlamydia/stdfact-chlamydia.htm
- Chlamydia. (2022). American Family Physician, 105(4).
- Darville T. (2013). Recognition and treatment of chlamydial infections from birth to adolescence. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, 764, 109–122. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-4726-9_8
- Phillips J. A. (2019). Chlamydia infections. Workplace Health & Safety, 67(7), 375–376. https://doi.org/10.1177/2165079919853590
- Horner P. (2010). Chlamydia (uncomplicated, genital). BMJ Clinical Evidence, 2010, 1607.
- WHO guidelines for the treatment of chlamydia trachomatis. (n.d.). Retrieved July 9, 2022, from https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/246165/9789241549714-webannexD-eng.pdf?sequence=5
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