Photo Credit: C.M.Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection—in fact, it's the most commonly passed sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the United States. Chlamydia can affect the penis, cervix, fallopian tubes, anus, throat and—in rare cases—the eyes. It can cause serious health problems such as pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility if it isn't treated.
How do you get chlamydia? Chlamydia can be passed on through unprotected oral, vaginal or anal sex with an infected person. A pregnant woman can also pass Chlamydia to her baby during childbirth.
How can I avoid it? Using condoms or dental dams will protect you from chlamydia. You can also avoid it by making sure that your partner has been tested for STDs before you start having sex with that person.
What are the symptoms of chlamydia? Many people who are infected with chlamydia show no symptoms at all, so you can pass it on without even knowing you have it. It's a good idea to get tested for chlamydia if you've been diagnosed with another STD, like gonorrhea or herpes, your partner has been diagnosed with chlamydia or another STD, you or your partner have had more than one sexual partner, you've recently changed partners or you've had unprotected sex with a casual partner.
What happens during a chlamydia test? A doctor or other health care professional will check for infection by either taking a urine sample (you urinate in a little plastic cup) or by taking a small amount of tissue from the penis or vagina using a cotton swab.
Will chlamydia go away if I ignore it? No! This infection won't get better on its own, but can be easily treated with antibiotic pills. When chlamydia isn't treated, women can end up with Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). Both men and women can become infertile, which means they aren't able to have kids. Having chlamydia can also increase the risk of becoming infected with HIV.
Acknowledgement: This fact sheet was originally developed by youth and staff at ReachOut.com, a website that helps teens get through tough times.