Chlamydia: Myths vs Facts
Not sure whether to believe what you’ve heard about chlamydia?
We’re here to bust some common myths.
Here are the chlamydia facts.
MYTH: You would know if you had chlamydia
FACT: Most people with chlamydia don’t have any noticeable symptoms. It’s often known as the “hidden” or “silent” infection because it’s so common to have it without knowing. The only way to know if you have chlamydia is to get tested. And the same goes for sexual partners. You can’t tell whether a partner has chlamydia or any other STIs just by looking – that’s why it’s a good idea to use condoms to help protect yourself.
MYTH: Chlamydia always causes infertility
FACT: It’s important to be aware that untreated chlamydia can lead to infertility. But for most people, as long as the chlamydia is cured it won’t cause infertility or any other complications. It’s really important to treat the chlamydia early before it has the chance to spread to other parts of the body. If chlamydia in women isn’t treated, it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) which can cause infertility. Untreated chlamydia may cause a painful infection in the testicles which could, in rare cases, affect fertility in men.
MYTH: Chlamydia can go away on its own
FACT: Chlamydia needs to be treated with antibiotics to prevent any long-term problems. Without treatment, there is a chance that eventually the chlamydia might go away – but it’s likely to take a long time. And if you have chlamydia for a long time, then it’s more likely to cause serious and painful complications – and you could pass it on to other people. The best way to look after your health is to get treated and cured as early as possible. That’s why regular testing is a good idea.
MYTH: Once you’ve had chlamydia, you can’t get it again
FACT: Once you have had chlamydia, you are NOT immune to it. You can easily get it again. In fact, if you and a sexual partner both have chlamydia, it can be easy to pass it backwards and forwards between you if you’re not careful. To avoid getting chlamydia again:
- Take your antibiotics according to the instructions.
- Don’t have any sex – not even with condoms – until you have finished your treatment (plus waited 7 days if you had azithromycin) and any symptoms have gone.
- Use condoms or dams to help protect yourself when you have vaginal/frontal, anal or oral sex.
If you are aged under 25, you are at a higher risk of getting chlamydia again so have another chlamydia test 3–6 months after finishing your treatment and get tested regularly after that.
MYTH: You can give yourself chlamydia
FACT: If you have never had any sexual activity with anyone, you can’t get chlamydia. It’s not possible to give chlamydia to yourself. You can’t get chlamydia from masturbating by yourself, although it is possible to get it from masturbating with someone else, if they have chlamydia and pass it on to you.
It is possible to get a condition called urethritis (where the tube you wee from becomes sore or painful) without having sex. This can be caused by things like masturbating a lot or from getting soap, lotion or another irritant into the urethra (wee tube).
MYTH: Chlamydia only affects women
FACT: Anyone sexually active can get chlamydia. Women are more likely to experience serious complications – such as long-term pain and infertility – if chlamydia isn’t treated, but it can cause painful and serious complications in men too. And if men have chlamydia without knowing it, they can pass it on to sexual partners. It’s everyone’s responsibility to get tested and treated so that you can protect your own health and the health of your partner(s).
MYTH: You can’t get chlamydia if you’ve only had one sexual partner
FACT: Anyone sexually active can get chlamydia and pass it on, even if you have only had sex once. Chlamydia is easily spread through sexual activity, so if a sexual partner has chlamydia they could pass it on to you.
You can reduce the risk of getting chlamydia by:
- Using condoms for vaginal/frontal and anal sex.
- Using condoms or dams for oral sex.
- Getting an STI test whenever you change partner and before you stop using condoms with a partner.
MYTH: If your partner tests negative for chlamydia you don’t need a chlamydia test yourself
FACT: When it comes to chlamydia and other STIs, it’s important not to rely on a partner’s negative test result. You could still have chlamydia even if a partner has tested negative. The only way to be sure you don’t have chlamydia is to get tested yourself.
MYTH: Testing positive for chlamydia means your partner must have cheated on you
FACT: It can be surprising and upsetting to get a positive chlamydia test, especially if you have a long-term sexual partner. If you have only had sex with one person or been in an exclusive relationship for a while but have just tested positive for chlamydia, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your partner is cheating on you. It’s possible to have chlamydia for a long time without knowing it and a chlamydia test can’t usually tell you exactly how long the chlamydia has been there. So, it’s possible that one of you may have got it from a previous partner.
MYTH: The antibiotics used to treat chlamydia can stop contraception from working.
FACT: The antibiotics used to treat chlamydia are safe to use with all types of contraception, including the combined pill, patch, ring, progestogen-only pill, implant, IUS and injection. So, if you have sex while you are on antibiotics for chlamydia, don’t worry, you will still be protected from pregnancy. However, it’s much better not to have any sex until both you and any partners have finished chlamydia treatment and the chlamydia has gone. Otherwise, you risk giving each other chlamydia again.
MYTH: You can get chlamydia from a toilet seat
FACT: The bacteria (germs) that cause chlamydia can’t live outside the body for very long, so even if body fluids from someone with chlamydia got onto a toilet seat, they would not be able to infect someone else.