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What Causes Chlamydia?

Medically reviewed by Mary Rani Cadiz, MD · Obstetrics and Gynecology

Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated Jun 01, 2021

What Causes Chlamydia?

Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Despite this, not a lot of people are aware of what causes chlamydia, how it spreads, and how it can be prevented.

What Causes Chlamydia?

Chlamydia trachomatis is the bacteria that causes chlamydia. Interestingly, this bacteria was first discovered in people with eye infections, not people with STDs. This bacteria was responsible for eye infections, particularly seen in newborns. However, it took a few more years before doctors realized that this bacteria was the same found in the discharge of some people with penile or vaginal discharge.

Over time, doctors found that chlamydia is able to infect not just the eyes or the sexual organs, but most mucus membranes of the body, including the anus and mouth.

How is Chlamydia Transmitted and Can It Be Prevented?

What Happens Once You Get Infected?

Once a person gets infected with chlamydia, the bacteria quickly starts to multiply. During this stage, patients still have no idea that they are infected; this means that they don’t experience any symptoms whatsoever.

As the bacteria grows and multiplies, it can start to spread to other organs in the person’s reproductive and urinary tract. Over time, patients might start to notice symptoms such as hypogastric pain, feeling of swelling, and a strong-smelling discharge coming from the penis or vagina. These symptoms mean that the patient is already suffering from inflammation.

In women, the vagina, cervix, uterus, and fallopian tubes are the organs first infected. While in men, it is usually the urethra or the epididymis, which is a tube in the testicles.

If the condition does not get treated, the infection can last for years. Reinfection can also happen, especially for patients who don’t practice safe sex. This can become a problem because, over time, prolonged inflammation can damage the reproductive tract and may lead to infertility.

How Do People Get Infected?

Chlamydia’s main form of transmission is through unprotected sexual contact, including oral, anal, or vaginal sex. Additionally, infected semen or vaginal fluid that gets into a person’s eye or mouth can also cause chlamydia.

Chlamydia can also spread easily because it’s symptoms don’t appear immediately. A person might already have the disease and is spread to other people without them or their partners knowing.

This is the reason why using condoms or dental dams during sex is very important in preventing the spread of STDs. People who have multiple sexual partners also need to get tested for STDs frequently.

In addition, pregnant women also need to get tested for chlamydia. This is because they might pass the infection to their newborn baby. With immediate diagnosis, they can undergo treatment before they give birth.

what causes chlamydia

What Can You Do About It?

The most important thing to do to prevent chlamydia and other STDs would be to use protection. Using condoms or dental dams during intercourse can significantly lower the risk of having STDs.

Getting an STD test is also important, especially for patients with multiple partners. This is because having multiple partners can greatly increase a person’s risk for STDs.

If you think that you might have an STD, or if you’ve had unprotected sex recently, be sure to abstain from sex until you get tested. This way, you lower the chances for the STD to spread.

What Does Chlamydia Smell Like? Know the Symptoms of This STD

Be sure to seek treatment if you do test positive for chlamydia or other sexually transmitted diseases. Diseases like gonorrhea and chlamydia are easily curable with modern forms of treatment. HIV, on the other hand, can be managed through medication; and the prognosis is good for patients who seek treatment the soonest possible time.

Learn more about Chlamydia here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Mary Rani Cadiz, MD

Obstetrics and Gynecology

Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated Jun 01, 2021

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