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All About Chlamydia


The word "chlamydia" is often tossed around as a scary disease, but it's actually a common and very easily treatable sexually transmitted infection.

Fast facts about chlamydia

Did you know...
Up to 70% of people with vaginas will not have symptoms if they are infected with chlamydia or gonorrhea.1

Did you know...
Chlamydia is the most commonly reported bacterial sexually transmitted infection in Canada and infection rates are increasing, growing 16.7% between 2010 and 2015.1

Did you know...
Chlamydia affects people with vaginas more, accounting for two-thirds of reported infections between 2010 to 2015. Young people are also more likely to get chlamydia!1

Did you know...
Most of the time, chlamydia infects the genitals (vagina, penis). However, it can also be contracted in the throat, rectum, or even the eyes!2

How might chlamydia be contracted?

Chlamydia can be transmitted through any sexual contact, including handjobs, blowjobs, and penetrative sex.

Chlamydia can also be transmitted by sharing sex toys or equipment.2

Importantly, infection can happen without penetration or ejaculation.3

How is chlamydia detected?

It might take 2 to 7 days to show symptoms (if any) after infection occurs.3 Keep in mind that most people don't show any signs of infection!2 When it doubt, the best way to find out is to get tested.

Possible signs & symptoms

Some of these symptoms might indicate a chlamydia infection.

Pain or burning during sex or urination3

Vagina is leaking fluid (discharge) that might smell or is discoloured (green, yellow, off-white etc)3

Pain in the abdomen or back2

Unusual bleeding from the vagina2

Red or itchy eyes, that might or might not have discharge3

Pain, itching or bleeding in the rectum3

Sore throat or swelling3

Uh oh... What can go wrong with chlamydia infections?

Chlamydia is very easily treated without any major permanent complications. However, if chlamydia remains untreated, it can develop into more serious issues that can cause permanent problems.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

When chlamydia in the vagina is untreated, it can progress and the infection can spread deeper into the body, infecting the uterus and fallopian tubes. This is called Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) and can lead to severe problems, such as:

Ectopic Pregnancy2
A condition where the pregnancy happens in the tubes that connect the ovaries to the uterus

A condition where pregnancy is difficult to achieve despite regular, unprotected sex

Chronic Pelvic Pain3
Pain in the area below the belly button that lasts for 6 months or more

Every year, about 100,000 Canadians experience symptoms of PID.4 About 10 to 15% of people with gonorrhea or chlamydia are expected to have an episode of PID in their lifetime.5


When chlamydia occurs at the same time as a pregnancy, it can cause

Preterm Labour6
The baby is born much earlier than expected


Low Birth Weight5

Birth Infection5
The baby is born infected with chlamydia

Lyphogranuloma Venerum (LGV)

LGV results from untreated chlamydia infections, which can lead to sores, growths, scarring, and/or damage to internal organs.7

Other Issues

Other long term effects of chlamydia include rashes, sores, and joint pain.2

How is chlamydia treated?

Treating chlamydia is generally quite simple, and requires a course of antibiotics. The course and duration of treatment depends on how severe the infection is. It is important to follow treatment instructions of avoiding sex, so that it cannot be transmitted to others during the treatment period.8

Once cured of chlamydia, it cannot be passed onto later sexual partners. However, chlamydia re-infection is possible again in the future.2

More serious infections and complications might require longer treatments, or even hospitalization.9

How is it prevented?

There are several ways chlamydia can be slowed down from spreading:

Practice safer sex

Safer sex practices such as condoms, dental dams, and not sharing sex toys can help reduce the chances of exposure to chlamydia2

Remember that while birth control can be effective at preventing pregnancy, it does not necessarily prevent chlamydia!2

Get tested regularly and appropriately2

Chlamydia might not show any symptoms, so the only way to know for sure is to go for regular testing. Depending on a person's sexual habits and practices, and that of their partner(s), health organizations recommend testing every 3 to 12 months.10

Bust the stigma!

Learning and talking about STIs helps everyone feel more comfortable discussing it. We know the conversations can be awkward, but it gets easier with practice. Talk to your partners about getting tested, and ask your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.

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