SummaryRead the full fact sheet
- Chlamydia is a very common sexually transmissible infection (STI). Most people with a chlamydia infection have no symptoms.
- Chlamydia can infect the cervix, urethra, anus, throat and eyes.
- Chlamydia is effectively treated with antibiotics.
- If left untreated, chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in people with a vagina and lead to chronic pain and infertility.
- In people with a penis, untreated chlamydia can cause pain and swelling in one or both testicles.
- Partners of people with chlamydia also need to be informed, tested and treated as they may be infected too. If so, there is a risk they could reinfect their partner who has been treated for chlamydia.
About chlamydia and its causes
It is often called the ‘silent infection’ because most people do not realise they have it.
Chlamydia affects people of all ages. It most frequently affects young people (under 25) who regularly change sexual partners.
Who is at risk of chlamydia?
Anyone who is sexually active is at risk of chlamydia. You are at increased risk of infection if you:
- are young (under 25)
- have any type of unprotected sex (without condoms) with someone who is infected with chlamydia.
Chlamydia symptoms affecting the vagina
Commonly, chlamydia has no signs or symptoms.
It can infect the cervix and spread to the uterus and fallopian tubes, causing:
If symptoms are present, they may include:
- unusual vaginal discharge
- burning feeling when urinating
- pain during sex
- bleeding after sex
- lower or pelvic pain.
Chlamydia symptoms affecting the penis
Commonly there are no signs or symptoms.
Chlamydia can infect the urethra and spread to the epididymis – the tube that carries sperm from the testicles.
If symptoms are present in the penis they may include:
- redness at the opening of the penis (urethra)
- discomfort (stinging or burning) when urinating
- sore, swollen testes.
Sexual health checks for chlamydia
Sexual health check-ups are recommended for anyone who is sexually active. Frequency of testing also depends on your STI risk:
- An annual sexual health check-up (which includes chlamydia testing) is highly recommended if you are sexually active – especially if you are under 25.
- Get checked more often during the year if you frequently change sexual partners.
- You are at greater risk if you have sex without a condom (with one or multiple sexual partners).
How chlamydia spreads
Because chlamydial infection often has no symptoms, many people do not realise they have the infection. Remember:
- Even if you know someone well, you may not be able to tell they have an STI – people can look healthy and still have chlamydia.
- You can catch chlamydia from a long-term partner who has had sex with other people.
- You can get chlamydia and other STIs from a new sexual partner who has had sex with someone who is infected.
Chlamydia is easily diagnosed and curable STI.
Tests are painless and usually involve either:
- a simple urine test
- swab from the vagina, cervix, anus or throat.
The specimen is then sent to a laboratory for testing.
Getting chlamydia test results
Test results for chlamydia are usually available within a week.
Antibiotics are very effective in treating chlamydia.
Do not have sex for 7 days after you and your current partner have completed treatment. If you partner started treatment after you, this means no sex until one week after they have started treatment.
You can get reinfected with chlamydia if you have sex within the 7 days.
After you have completed treatment, have another test for chlamydia in 3 months’ time (or 1 month's time if you have anal chlamydia) to make sure you have not been re-infected.
Chlamydia reinfection is common. Having chlamydia once does not stop you from getting it again.
Even after you’ve been successfully treated, you can still be reinfected if you have unprotected sex with someone who has the infection.
Letting partners know you have chlamydia
Sexual partners may be infected too. If you have chlamydia, anyone you have had sex with from the last 6 months needs to be informed, tested and treated.
If they don’t know, they could reinfect you or infect someone else if they are not treated.
Most people will appreciate being told they may have an infection and it is an important step in preventing further infection in the community.
Your local GP and sexual health centre can help you inform your partners and let them know that they need a test. This process is called ‘partner notification’. It can be done anonymously, and your confidentiality is always respected.
How to help partners get treatment
If you are not sure whether your sexual partner(s) will seek treatment, ask your doctor for extra chlamydia medication (or a prescription). You can give it to them so they can be treated as soon as possible.
This is known as patient delivered partner therapy (PDPT) for chlamydia. Talk to your doctor to see if PDPT is right for you and your sexual partner(s).
Reducing chlamydia transmission
Safer sex practices reduce the risk of STI transmission. Ways to reduce your risk of catching chlamydia include:
- – use and water-based lubricant (lube) for all types of sex. can also be used for vaginal or anal sex.
- If you are sexually active, get a full sexual health check (including tests for , and chlamydia) at least once a year. Get checked more often if you frequently change sexual partners.
- After you have completed chlamydia treatment, get tested in 3 months’ time to check you have not been re-infected.
Where to get help
- Your school nurse or school welfare coordinator (Some secondary schools provide access to an adolescent health trained GP on site)
- Your pharmacist (including after hours )
- . To book an appointment call SHV Melbourne CBD Clinic: or call SHV Box Hill Clinic: or (free call): . These services are youth friendly.
- Tel. or .
- – visit Melbourne Sexual Health Centre's GP partner clinics for STI check-ups and treatment
- (formerly Victorian AIDS Council) Tel. or
- Tel. Or
- , Wodonga Tel. or
- (throughout Victoria)
- Tel: is a statewide phone service for information about sexual health as well as contraception and pregnancy options