Chlamydia (kluh-MID-ee-uh) is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Chlamydia is usually spread through vaginal, oral, or anal sex. Chlamydia is one of the most common STIs in women, especially young women ages 15 to 24. It often has no symptoms. Antibiotics can treat chlamydia. If left untreated, chlamydia can cause serious health problems for women, such as difficulty getting pregnant
Chlamydia is an STI that is caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis. It is an especially serious problem for women because it can damage the female reproductive organs.
Chlamydia is spread through:
Chlamydia is known as a "silent" infection, because most women who have chlamydia do not have symptoms. If you do have symptoms, you may not notice them until several weeks after you get chlamydia.
Symptoms may include:
If you think you may have chlamydia, you and your sex partner(s) need to see a doctor as soon as possible.
Chlamydia that does not have any symptoms can still lead to future health problems (including not being able to get pregnant). The only way to know if you or a partner has chlamydia is to get tested.
You also need to be tested if you are pregnant or if you have any symptoms of chlamydia.
There are two ways that a doctor or nurse tests for chlamydia:
A Pap test is not used to detect chlamydia.
Your doctor or nurse will prescribe antibiotics to treat chlamydia. Antibiotics can cure chlamydia. But they cannot fix any permanent damage done to your body, including scarring of your reproductive organs. For this reason, you should get tested and take the antibiotics as soon as possible.
For the antibiotics to work, you must finish all of the antibiotics that your doctor gives you, even if the symptoms go away. Do not share your antibiotics for chlamydia with anyone. If symptoms do not go away after treatment, see your doctor or nurse.
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant. Your doctor can give you antibiotics that are safe to take during pregnancy.
Untreated chlamydia can cause serious health problems in women, including:
Chlamydia is easy to treat. But you need to be tested and treated as soon as possible.
If you have chlamydia:
For pregnant women, chlamydia may lead to premature birth, or babies born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Premature birth is the most common cause of infant death and can lead to long-term health and development problems in children.5
Babies born to mothers who have chlamydia can get:
The best way to prevent chlamydia or any STI is to not have vaginal, oral, or anal sex.
If you do have sex, lower your risk of getting an STI with the following steps:
The steps work best when used together. No single step can protect you from every single type of STI.
Yes. It is possible to get chlamydia, or any other STI, if you are a woman who has sex only with women. Chlamydia lives in the reproductive tract of an infected woman and can pass to a sex partner, whether male or female.
Talk to your partner about her sexual history before having sex, and ask your doctor or nurse for an STI test if you are at risk.6
For more information about chlamydia, call the OWH Helpline at 800-994-9662 or contact the following organizations:
The Office on Women's Health is grateful for the additional reviews by:
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Page last updated: June 12, 2017.
Content last reviewed: March 23, 2017.