Is chlamydia only caught through sexual contact?

Chlamydia is usually caught through sexual contact. However, if a pregnant woman has chlamydia, she can pass the infection on to her baby during childbirth.

What is chlamydia?

Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the UK. It's caused by a bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis. These bacteria are found in the semen and vaginal fluids of people with the infection. 

How is chlamydia caught?

You can catch chlamydia through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex. It can also be passed on if you share sex toys and don't wash them or cover them with a condom each time they're used. Read more about using sex toys safely.

It's unclear whether chlamydia can be spread through touch to another person's genitals if there is infected semen or vaginal fluid on your fingers, or by rubbing female genitals together.

You can't catch chlamydia from kissing or sharing things such as toilets or towels with someone who has the infection.

What should I do if I think I might have chlamydia?

Go to your GP, a sexual health clinic or a genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic for a free, confidential test. Chlamydia can go unnoticed because it often has no symptoms.

Chlamydia can be treated easily with antibiotics. You will be advised to avoid all sex, including oral and anal, even with a condom, for seven days until you have completed your course of treatment.

If you don't get treatment for chlamydia, it can lead to long-term problems for both men and women, including infertility.

Read more information about the symptoms of chlamydia and possible complications of chlamydia

Read the answers to more questions about sexual health.

Further information:

A responsible romance: getting tested for chlamydia

In this dramatisation, teenage couple Ben and Rosie get tested for sexually transmitted infections, including chlamydia.

Media last reviewed: 16/03/2013

Next review due: 16/03/2015

Page last reviewed: 03/11/2014

Next review due: 02/11/2016