Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that typically affects the mucous membranes of the vagina, penis, and anus. Sometimes, however, it can develop in those of the throat.
Chlamydia can lead to a sore throat. But if it only affects this area, it may not cause any symptoms at all. In some people, the infection develops in both the throat and the genitals.
Below, learn more about chlamydia in the throat and the available treatments.
Most cases of chlamydia in the throat cause no symptoms. Other times, the infection causes redness and soreness of the throat or mouth.
Even if a person has no symptoms, they can pass on the infection. This is also true when chlamydia affects the genitals.
Chlamydia can pass, for example, from the genitals to another person’s genitals or throat.
The infection most commonly affects the genitals, where it can cause the following symptoms:
- burning or itching
- pain during bowel movements
Chlamydia is a bacterial infection. A person can develop it through genital contact, sharing sex toys, and — most often — through contact with fluids, such as semen, from a person who has the infection.
Still, oral sex is not a common way of developing the infection because the bacteria prefer the mucous membranes of the vagina, anus, or penis to those of the throat.
A person cannot contract chlamydia through:
- contact with a toilet seat
- sharing towels or clothes
A person can develop it through oral contact with the penis of a person with chlamydia. It is also possible to develop it in the genitals through oral contact from a person with chlamydia in their throat.
A person may be unaware that they have the infection because chlamydia does not always cause symptoms. For this reason, using barrier protection is important.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend taking the following steps to prevent the spread of STIs through oral sex:
- using latex or plastic condoms that are not lubricated
- using a dental dam during vaginal or anal contact
- avoiding sexual contact if sores are present in the mouth
- using barrier methods, such as condoms, during each encounter
- having regular STI checks
While experts recommend regular testing, it is an especially good idea to have an STI check:
- if there are any signs of an infection — though some STIs, including chlamydia, often cause no symptoms
- if a sexual partner has had a positive test result
- in the case of pregnancy
Some groups may benefit from yearly testing, such as:
- males who have sex with males
- older females who have new or multiple sexual partners
- females aged 25 or younger who are sexually active
To diagnose chlamydia in the throat, a doctor will likely use a cotton swab to get a fluid sample. They then typically send the sample to a lab, which will test for the bacteria.
If the result is positive, the person should let any recent sexual partners know.
Treatment for chlamydia typically involves a course of antibiotics, which may last 1 or 7 days.
A person who takes a 1-day dose should avoid sexual contact for 7 days. A person who takes a 7-day course can resume sexual activity after completing it.
Since the risk of a repeated infection is high, a person should get retested in about 3 months.
Chlamydia in the throat is not common. Most often, it passes from the penis to the throat, but it can also spread from oral contact with the vagina or anus.
To prevent this and other STIs, use a barrier method, such as a condom or dental dam, during all forms of sexual activity and have regular STI checks.
A doctor can treat chlamydia with a short course of antibiotics, but there is a high risk of reinfection, so taking precautions is key.