Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can affect anyone. It’s treatable, but it can lead to serious complications if treatment isn’t sought.

You can get chlamydia by having sex without a condom or other barrier method with a partner who has it.

A common misconception is that chlamydia is transmittable through kissing. It’s important to note that chlamydia is not transmitted through kissing.

The symptoms of chlamydia can include:

  • a burning sensation during urination
  • a smelly, abnormal discharge from the vagina or penis
  • an unusual sore on or around the genitals
  • swelling and pain in one or both testicles
  • rectal pain
  • anal bleeding
  • vaginal bleeding between periods
  • an eye infection or pneumonia in newborns

The symptoms may appear several weeks after you have sex with a person who has chlamydia. Importantly, most people who have chlamydia don’t have any symptoms.

The bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis causes chlamydia. It can also cause other disorders, including:

You can’t transmit chlamydia through kissing, sharing drinking glasses, or hugging.

However, you can transmit the disease:

  • through vaginal, oral, or anal sex without a condom or other barrier method with someone who has the disease
  • to your baby through childbirth if you’re pregnant
  • during sex without a condom with a male partner even if they don’t ejaculate

You can still contract chlamydia even if you had the disease previously and treated it. Visit your doctor right away if you or your partner notices any symptoms of chlamydia.

While kissing doesn’t transmit chlamydia, a number of other conditions can be transferred through kissing from saliva or open cuts around the mouth. Those conditions include:

  • the common cold and other viral infections
  • influenza
  • the Epstein-Barr virus, which is a common saliva-borne virus that can cause mononucleosis
  • herpes simplex virus, which is commonly known as a cold sore or fever blister
  • hepatitis B, but only if there are abrasions or mouth sores caused by bites or trauma where blood can be exchanged
  • cytomegalovirus, which is a common virus that can be transmitted to anyone but rarely causes symptoms
  • meningitis, which is the inflammation of the brain and spinal cord

Chlamydia is the most commonly reported STI, especially among women under 25 years old. It’s estimated that 1 in 20 sexually active women ages 14 to 24 years has an active chlamydia infection.

Chlamydia is sometimes painful and can cause serious health problems if you don’t get the proper treatment for it.

In those with a vagina, untreated chlamydia can spread to the uterus and fallopian tubes. This can cause permanent damage to the reproductive system.

It can lead to difficulty conceiving, infertility, or possibly fatal ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that occurs outside the womb.

Untreated chlamydia may also increase your risk for contracting HIV.

Those with a penis rarely experience health problems related to chlamydia. Sometimes fever and pain can occur if the condition has spread to the tube that carries sperm from the testicles.

Unlike those with a vagina, chlamydia generally won’t affect a man’s ability to have children.

If you suspect you have chlamydia, your doctor will order lab tests and may ask for a urine sample or vaginal cotton swab. If your test results are positive for chlamydia, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics.

Chlamydia typically goes away within 1 to 2 weeks. You should avoid sex during this time to prevent transmitting the disease.

Your doctor may prescribe a one-dose medication or a medication you’ll take daily for about a week.

If they prescribe a one-dose pill, you should wait 7 days before having sex again. If you’re taking medication for 7 days, wait a week after the final dose before engaging in sexual activity.

You should also get tested again 3 months after you were treated for the disease, because repeat chlamydia transmissions are common.

The best way to prevent chlamydia is to avoid sex without a condom or other barrier method with someone who has the disease.

Follow these tips to protect yourself against chlamydia:

  • Use condoms, either male latex condoms or female polyurethane ones, the right way every time you have sex. Ask your pharmacist or doctor if you’re unsure about the correct way to use a condom.
  • Limit the number of sexual partners you have to help reduce your risk for exposure.
  • If you’re a person with a vagina, don’t douche. Douching can increase your risk because it reduces the number of good bacteria in the vagina.

Routine testing for chlamydia and other STIs, such as HIV and herpes, is also important for prevention, early detection, and treatment.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises sexually active women under 25 years old to get screened for chlamydia every year.

Tips for safe kissing

Follow these tips to practice safe kissing and prevent transmission of other conditions:

  • Avoid kissing someone if either of you has open sores.
  • Avoid kissing someone if either of you has cuts in or around the mouth.
  • Avoid kissing someone when you’re sick or if they’re sick.
  • Don’t bite during kissing.
  • Find other parts of the body to kiss instead of the lips, such as the cheek or hand.

Kissing doesn’t have to be off-limits to prevent the transmission of disease. If you temporarily avoid kissing or change the way you kiss during a bout of illness, you could lower your chances for getting the condition.