Chlamydia is caused by bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis.
How you get chlamydia
You can get chlamydia through:
- unprotected vaginal sex
- unprotected anal sex
- unprotected oral sex
- your genitals coming into contact with your partner’s genitals
- sharing sex toys when they are not washed or covered with a new condom between each person who uses them
Sexual fluid from the penis or vagina can pass chlamydia from one person to another even if the penis does not enter the vagina, anus or mouth. This means you can get chlamydia from genital contact with someone who has the infection even if there is no penetration, orgasm or ejaculation.
It isn’t clear if chlamydia could be passed on by transferring infected semen or vaginal fluid on the fingers, or by rubbing female genitals together.
Chlamydia cannot be passed on through casual contact, including kissing and hugging, or from sharing baths, towels, swimming pools, toilet seats or cutlery.
Infected semen or vaginal fluid can cause conjunctivitis if it gets into someone’s eye.
Chlamydia and giving birth
During childbirth, a woman with chlamydia can pass the infection on to her baby. If chlamydia develops in the baby there might not be any obvious symptoms at first. Chlamydia in a newborn baby can cause inflammation (swelling) and discharge in the baby’s eyes (known as conjunctivitis) and pneumonia. The midwife or GP can arrange a simple swab test for chlamydia from the baby.
Find out more about:
- chlamydia symptoms
- getting tested for chlamydia
- chlamydia treatment
- protecting yourself against chlamydia