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How do you get chlamydia?

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Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that is caused by bacteria. This can infect the cervix, rectum and urethra (where urine leaves the penis); it can also infect non-genital areas including the eyes and lungs.

Chlamydia is typically spread through unprotected (without a condom) vaginal, oral and anal sex. You can also catch chlamydia by coming into contact with infected genital fluids like semen or vaginal fluid. It’s important to remember that you can catch chlamydia from having unprotected sex once with a person that has the chlamydia infection. So it is important that you get regularly checked, not only to protect yourself but also to protect any new partners you may have.

How do you catch chlamydia?

  • Through unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex with someone who has the infection
  • Infected semen or vaginal fluids getting into your eyes
  • Sharing sex toys that have not been washed or covered with a new condom every time they are used
  • Your genitals touching someone else’s genitals even if there is no penetration, orgasm or ejaculation

Pregnant women can also pass the infection to their baby during childbirth, which means that their baby could develop an eye infection such as conjunctivitis or a lung infection like pneumonia.

Is it possible to get chlamydia without being sexually active?

No, not unless you were infected at birth. In order to catch chlamydia you have to engage in sexual activity with a person who has chlamydia.

Chlamydia myths

There are plenty of myths out there that say you can get chlamydia from sharing cutlery or bath water, but the only way that you can get chlamydia is from sexual activity with someone who is infected with the STI.

You can’t contract chlamydia through:

  • Kissing or hugging
  • Holding hands
  • Sharing baths or towels
  • Swimming in your local leisure centre pool
  • Toilet seats
  • Sharing cutlery

To find out more about the signs of chlamydia read our advice page here.

Can you get chlamydia in the eye?

Yes, you can get chlamydia conjunctivitis. The bacterium enters your eye and can cause them to be red, itchy and swollen. You may feel as sensitivity to light and notice discharge coming from your eye.

Can you catch chlamydia from having sex one time?

Yes, if you have anal, vaginal or oral sex without a condom with someone who is infected with chlamydia.

Can chlamydia go away on its own?

No, your body cannot get rid of chlamydia on its own, however it is very easy to treat and cure. Once you have tested positive for chlamydia you will be given a course of antibiotics which should clear the infection.


Image for illustrative purposes only. Posed by models.