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What causes chlamydia?

Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that is passed on by coming into contact with infected semen or vaginal fluids. This can happen in a number of ways, including:

  • Unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex - even if there is no orgasm or ejaculation
  • Unprotected non-penetrative sexual contact
  • Sharing sex toys that aren’t washed or covered with a new condom with each use
  • Getting infected semen or vaginal fluid in your eye

Babies can also become infected if their mother gets chlamydia during pregnancy. Find out what to do if you’re diagnosed with chlamydia during pregnancy here.

What could increase your risk?

There are certain factors that could increase your chances of getting chlamydia. They include:

  • Not using a condom - If you practise safe sex, you’re much less likely to get chlamydia
  • Having lots of sexual partners - Even if you practise safe sex, there’s no guarantee that your partners will be as careful
  • Being under the age of 25 - Statistically, younger people are more likely to get chlamydia
  • A previous chlamydia diagnosis - If you’ve had chlamydia before, your resistance to the bacteria that caused it is lowered

What doesn’t cause chlamydia?

There are a lot of myths surrounding the ways in which STIs, such as chlamydia, are passed on.

While we’ve outlined the ways in which you might be at risk, it’s also important to highlight factors that are commonly mistaken for ways in which STIs are spread.

You can’t get chlamydia from:

  • Kissing
  • Hugging
  • Sharing bath water
  • Sharing towels
  • Swimming in the same pool as some
  • one with chlamydia
  • Toilet seats
  • Sharing cutlery

Getting the treatment you need

If you know you’ve been exposed to any of these potential causes or risk factors, there is a chance you might have chlamydia.

If left untreated, chlamydia can have very serious health consequences, so it’s very important that you see a doctor to get tested and treated as quickly as possible.