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Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections, and is caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. Antibiotic treatment, when taken as directed, normally cures chlamydia infections.

For more information on symptoms, causes, treatments and prevention see the Overview section.

Information for Health Professionals

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis. Chlamydia is one of the most common STIs reported in British Columbia.


It is common for people, especially women, to not have symptoms. If you do have symptoms they may take two to three weeks after sexual contact to develop. When symptoms occur, they can include pain when you urinate, pain in the lower stomach or an abnormal discharge from the penis, vagina or rectum. 

You can spread chlamydia even if you do not have symptoms. You are contagious until you have completed treatment.


Chlamydia is passed between people through unprotected oral, vaginal or anal sex. The bacteria can be found in semen, vaginal fluids, and rectal fluid. A pregnant woman can pass the infection to her newborn during delivery.

Certain activities increase your risk of getting chlamydia:

  • Having unprotected sex (not using condoms)
  • Having multiple sex partners
  • Having an impaired immune system

Chlamydia does not cause long-term problems if it is treated before any complications develop. If left untreated, chlamydia can lead to many complications:

  • Chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease. This serious infection can make it hard or impossible for a woman to get pregnant.
  • Pregnant women who have chlamydia can pass it to their babies at birth.
  • Chlamydia increases your risk of getting HIV if you are exposed to the virus.
  • Chlamydia can cause Epididymitis, an infection in the testicles which can lead to infertility.


A health professional diagnoses chlamydia using medical history, a physical examination, and tests. Testing for men is done with urine and sometimes a swab from the throat, penis or rectum. For women, testing can be done with urine or a swab from the cervix or vagina.


Antibiotic treatment, when taken as directed cures chlamydia infections. If antibiotics are not taken properly, the infection will not be cured. Prompt treatment prevents the spread of the infection and reduces the risk of complications.

It is important to not have sex for 7 days after starting treatment for chlamydia. If you are treated for chlamydia and your sex partner is not, you will probably become infected again, so encourage your partner to get tested and treated before resuming sex.

Having a chlamydia infection that was cured does not protect you from a future infection. A new exposure to chlamydia will reinfect you, even if you were treated and cured.

  • Avoid sexual contact if you have symptoms of an STI or are being treated for an STI.
  • Avoid sexual contact with anyone who has symptoms of an STI or who may have been exposed to an STI.
  • Having more than one sex partner at a time increases your risk for an STI.
SOURCE: Chlamydia ( )
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