What Is Chlamydia Infection?
Chlamydia is a very common sexually transmitted infection (STI) that shares its name with the bacteria that causes it – chlamydia trachomatis (C. trachomatis). Anyone who is sexually active can get chlamydia. According to the CDC, approximately 2 million cases are reported each year. Unfortunately, the real numbers are most likely much higher, since most cases of chlamydia are asymptomatic, which means there are no signs or symptoms of an infection.
Today, there are no exact demographic characteristics (like age, gender and race) that make people more likely to get chlamydia. The infection rates are fairly equal among people of all genders, races and ethnicities. However, higher transmission rates have a direct connection to a lack of access to sex education and STI prevention resources.
This particular infection can be easily and quickly treated with antibiotics. However, the tricky part is that chlamydia can often stay “silent” or give very mild symptoms, which means it is important to get tested regularly if you are sexually active. The sooner you know you have chlamydia, the faster you can cure it. If left untreated, this infection may lead to serious long-term health problems.
How Can You Catch Chlamydia?
Chlamydia is most commonly transmitted through direct contact with infected genital fluids. All kinds of sexual interactions can be risky, even those that don’t involve penetration or ejaculation. Chlamydia can also be passed from mother to baby during childbirth.
Here are the most common ways that chlamydia can be transmitted:
- unprotected sex (vaginal, anal or oral);
- careless sex toy sharing (unwashed or using the same condom with different people);
- infected vaginal fluid or semen coming in contact with the eye;
- genital contact (for example, rubbing against each other – even if there’s no penetration, orgasm or ejaculation).
Despite popular urban myths, it is impossible to catch chlamydia through casual contacts, such as kissing and hugging, or from sharing baths, towels, or toilet seats.