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Can you get Chlamydia from oral sex?

Catching chlamydia from oral sex can leave you with a throat infection. Read on to know about other symptoms and how to prevent it.
Oral sex can lead to the spread of many sexually transmitted infections including chlamydia. Image courtesy: Freepik
Anjuri Nayar Singh Published: 22 Apr 2024, 12:06 pm IST
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Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection that can give you serious health issues, if not treated on time. While penetrative sex is one way to catch chlamydia, there exists confusion regarding the chances of getting chlamydia from oral sex.

STIs generally spread through genital areas. But getting chlamydia from oral sex generally affects the throat. While the chances of getting chlamydia from oral sex may be low, the possibility is still there, and needs to be taken care of. Read on to know what is chlamydia, symptoms of chlamydia and how to prevent chlamydia from oral sex.

What is chlamydia?

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a bacteria called chlamydia trachomatis. “In the early stages, this disease doesn’t have any symptoms but in the long term, it can cause problems. Chlamydia can happen due to unprotected sex,” says obstetrician-gynecologist Dr Rohan Palshetkar.

It need not be penetrative sex. Even skin-to-skin contact can spread chlamydia. So, oral and anal sex can lead to chlamydia. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that while chlamydia can give you a throat infection, it is less common than an infection in the genital area.

Symptoms of chlamydia

What makes chlamydia a scary infection is that it hardly has any symptoms. “In men, generally there are no apparent symptoms. In men, it could show up as pain during urination, yellow or green discharge from the penis, pain in the lower abdomen or testes and sometimes, bleeding,” says Dr Palshetkar.

In women too, the symptoms take weeks before they develop. The symptoms can be painful sex, vaginal discharge, burning while urinating, pain in the abdomen. “It can even spread to the fallopian tubes and lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, leading to future infertility,” explains Dr Palshetkar.

Getting chlamydia through oral sex would lead to a throat infection. The symptoms can be as basic as sore throat, cough, and fever.

Catching chlamydia through oral sex would give you a throat infection. Image courtesy: Freepik

What is oral sex?

Oral sex is a sexual activity involving the stimulation of a partner’s genitals, anus, or other erogenous zones using the mouth, lips, or tongue. “It can include various techniques such as fellatio (oral stimulation of the penis), cunnilingus (oral stimulation of the vulva), and anilingus (oral stimulation of the anus),” explains sex expert Niyatii N Shah.

The bottomline is that unsafe oral sex can give you STIs and STDs.

Also read: Is oral sex safe? The answer will positively shock you!

How can you catch chlamydia from oral sex?

There are a few scenarios where it becomes very easy to get chlamydia from oral sex. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you can get chlamydia if any of the following are true:

  • If your partner’s penis is infected with chlamydia
  • If you have an infected vagina or urinary tract
  • If your partner has an infected rectum, more research is needed on this one
  • If you have chlamydia in the throat and you are giving oral sex

How is chlamydia diagnosed?

If you have engaged in penetrative or oral sex, and you feel that you might have contracted an STI, it is very important to consult a doctor. “Screening and diagnosis are usually very simple. A swab or urine test can be taken for culture and the bacteria can be identified,” explains Dr Palshetkar. A urine sample will not help if you think you have caught chlamydia from oral sex. So here, a throat swab would work. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to approve this test. The throat already has a lot of bacteria. So, spotting chlamydia might not be very easy or effective.

How to treat chlamydia?

The treatment of chlamydia is simple. “In most cases, antibiotics are the treatment of choice. Once diagnosed, your gynaecologist will prescribe you oral or IV antibiotics which should treat the infection straight away,” says Dr Palshetkar. Besides this, you will have you refrain from both penetrative and oral sex for at least one week, or till your antibiotic dose is over. You are more prone to catching chlamydia if you have got it once, so be careful.

A point to note is that the risk of catching chlamydia from oral sex, and ending up with a throat infection, is that it makes you more prone to catching HIV infection, states the CDC.

What are the risks involved in oral sex?

1. Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

Besides chlamydia, there’s a risk of transmitting other STIs such as herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis, HPV (human papillomavirus), and HIV. “These diseases are spread through the saliva, semen, or vaginal fluids (considering oral sex),” says Shah.

2. Genital warts

Genital warts are typically spread through skin-to-skin contact during sexual activity with an infected person. “This can include vaginal, anal, or oral sex, as well as genital-to-genital contact,” says Shah.

3. Soreness or irritation

Aggressive or prolonged oral sex might cause soreness or irritation in the mouth, throat, or genital areas. “Bacteria from the mouth or other parts of the body can potentially cause infections in the genital or anal areas if proper hygiene isn’t maintained,” says Shah.

4. Transmission of other infections

While less common, other infections can theoretically be transmitted through oral-anal contact (anilingus).

Using comdoms and dental dams can diminish your chances of catching chlamydia through oral sex. Image courtesy: Freepik

How to prevent getting chlamydia from oral sex?

1. Communicate

Talk openly with your partner about your sexual history, STI testing, and any concerns you may have about STIs. Mutual honesty and transparency can help create a safer sexual environment.

2. Use protection

Consider using barriers such as condoms or dental dams during oral sex. Condoms can be used to cover the penis, while dental dams (or even cut-open condoms) can be used to cover the vulva or anus. This helps reduce the risk of STI transmission.

3. Regular testing

Get tested regularly for STIs, especially if you have multiple sexual partners or engage in high-risk sexual behaviour. Regular testing allows for early detection and treatment of STIs, which can help prevent further transmission.

4. Limit sexual partners

Limiting the number of sexual partners and choosing partners who have been tested for STIs can help reduce your risk of exposure to infections.

5. Practise safer sex

In addition to using barriers, practising other safer sex methods such as avoiding contact with open sores or lesions, and maintaining good oral hygiene can help reduce the risk of STIs during oral sex.

6. Be aware of symptoms

Pay attention to any unusual symptoms such as sores, itching, or discharge in the genital or oral area. If you experience any symptoms, seek medical attention promptly for evaluation and treatment.

7. Consider vaccination

Vaccines are available for certain STIs such as HPV (human papillomavirus) and hepatitis B. Consider getting vaccinated to protect yourself against these infections.

 

Anjuri Nayar Singh

Anjuri Nayar Singh has over 12 years of experience in writing for various topics including lifestyle, films, television and OTT. She also writes on art and culture, education and human interest stories. ...Read More

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