Can You Get Chlamydia From Oral Sex?

When it comes to sexual health, it's important to know the risks of different activities. A common question is whether you can get chlamydia from oral sex. While many people know that STIs can be passed through vaginal or anal sex, oral sex often isn't talked about as much. This blog will break down whether chlamydia can be spread through oral sex, what symptoms to watch out for, and how to protect yourself, so you can stay informed and safe.

Short answer: yes.

How is Chlamydia Transmitted?

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis. You can get chlamydia through unprotected sex, which means not using a condom or dental dam. This includes:

  • Vaginal Sex: When a penis enters a vagina without protection, the bacteria can be passed from one person to another.
  • Anal Sex: Chlamydia can also spread during unprotected anal sex. The bacteria can infect the rectum.
  • Oral Sex: Can you get chlamydia from oral sex? Yes, although it's less common. The bacteria can be transmitted to the throat if you give oral sex to someone with a genital chlamydia infection.

Role of Mucus Membranes in Transmission

Mucus membranes are the moist linings found in areas like the genitals, rectum, and mouth. These membranes are crucial in chlamydia transmission. When they come into contact with infected fluids, the bacteria can enter and start an infection.

How Likely is Chlamydia from Oral Sex?

Chlamydia transmission through oral sex is less likely compared to vaginal or anal sex. However, it is still possible. Here's why:

Lower Likelihood of Transmission

  1. Preference for Genital Areas: Chlamydia bacteria, Chlamydia trachomatis, thrive better in the moist environments of the genital and anal areas. These areas provide the ideal conditions for the bacteria to multiply and spread.
  2. Rarity in the Throat: The throat is not as hospitable for chlamydia bacteria. According to the CDC, chlamydia in the throat, also known as pharyngeal chlamydia, is rare. The bacteria find it harder to establish an infection in the throat compared to the genital regions.

CDC's Stance on Throat Chlamydia

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that throat chlamydia is not a significant form of infection. This means that while you can get chlamydia from oral sex, the chances are much lower than from genital or anal sex.

Transmission from Giving and Receiving Oral Sex

Transmission can occur in two primary ways:

  1. Giving Oral Sex: If you perform oral sex on someone with a genital chlamydia infection, the bacteria can enter your throat. Although this is less common, it is still a possible route of infection.
  2. Receiving Oral Sex: If someone with a throat chlamydia infection performs oral sex on you, the bacteria can be transferred to your genital area. This form of transmission is also less likely but possible.

Key Takeaways:

  • Chlamydia bacteria prefer genital areas over the throat.
  • Throat infections are rare, according to the CDC.
  • Transmission can occur from both giving and receiving oral sex, though it is less common.

Understanding these points can help you take necessary precautions and reduce the risk of chlamydia transmission through oral sex.

What are the Symptoms of Oral Chlamydia?

Common Symptoms

  1. Sore Throat and Swollen Lymph Nodes: If you have chlamydia in the throat, you might experience a persistent sore throat. This discomfort can feel similar to having a cold. Additionally, you might notice swollen lymph nodes in your neck, which can feel tender when touched.
  2. Mouth Pain and Dental Issues: Chlamydia can cause pain in your mouth, making it uncomfortable to eat or talk. Dental problems, such as gum inflammation, can also arise. This inflammation might lead to more serious conditions if not treated properly.
  3. Mouth Sores and Redness in the Throat: Another symptom includes the development of sores in and around your mouth. These sores can be painful and may take longer to heal. You might also see redness at the back of your throat, which can be mistaken for other common throat infections.
  4. Possible Fever and White Spots at the Back of the Mouth: Some people might develop a mild fever. This is your body's way of fighting off the infection. Additionally, white spots could appear at the back of your mouth or on your tonsils. These spots are a sign that your body is responding to the infection.

How to Diagnose Chlamydia in the Throat?

  1. Need for Specific Screening: Diagnosing chlamydia in the throat, also known as pharyngeal chlamydia, requires targeted screening. Regular STI tests usually focus on genital or urinary samples. However, if you've had oral sex with someone who might have chlamydia, you need to tell your doctor. They can then perform specific tests for your throat.
  2. Throat Swabs and Lab Tests: To check for pharyngeal chlamydia, doctors use throat swabs. A swab is gently rubbed against the back of your throat to collect a sample. This sample is then sent to a lab. In the lab, they test it for the DNA of the chlamydia bacteria. This type of test helps identify the presence of the infection accurately.
  3. FDA's Stance on Throat Swab Tests: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not officially approved throat swab tests specifically for chlamydia. This means these tests are considered "off-label" when used for this purpose. Despite this, many doctors believe throat swabs can still be useful for detecting pharyngeal chlamydia.
  4. Challenges in Detection: Detecting chlamydia bacteria in the throat can be tricky. The throat contains many types of bacteria, some of which are harmless or even beneficial. This bacterial mix can make it hard to pinpoint chlamydia. Lab tests must carefully differentiate chlamydia from other bacteria present in your throat.

How is Oral Chlamydia Treated?

  1. Antibiotic Treatment: Treating chlamydia, including oral chlamydia, involves antibiotics. Doctors usually prescribe antibiotics such as azithromycin or doxycycline. These medications effectively eradicate the chlamydia bacteria from your body.
  2. Completing the Full Course: It's crucial to complete the entire course of antibiotics, even if symptoms improve before finishing the medication. Stopping early can allow the bacteria to survive and multiply, potentially causing the infection to return. Always follow your doctor's instructions precisely to ensure the infection clears completely.
  3. Avoiding Sexual Activity: While undergoing treatment, avoid all forms of sexual activity, including oral sex and intercourse. Engaging in sex can spread the infection to your partner or worsen your condition. Typically, doctors recommend waiting at least seven days after a single-dose antibiotic or until completing a longer course of antibiotics before resuming sexual activities.
  4. Risk of Reinfection: Reinfection is possible if you have sex with an untreated partner or engage in unprotected sex. To prevent this, both you and your partner should get tested and treated if necessary. Using protection like condoms or dental dams during oral sex greatly reduces the risk of contracting or spreading chlamydia again.


The cost of testing is usually between $50 to $90. For those in Canada, provincial insurance such as OHIP will cover the cost of medication.

Risks and Complications of Untreated Chlamydia

Untreated chlamydia can lead to serious health issues. Understanding these risks can help you realize the importance of early treatment and prevention.

Increased Vulnerability to Other STIs

Chlamydia can make you more susceptible to other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV. When your body is already fighting one infection, it becomes easier for another infection to take hold. The presence of chlamydia can cause inflammation and sores, which can serve as entry points for HIV. This increased vulnerability underscores the need to treat chlamydia promptly.

Dental Issues

Chlamydia in the throat, if left untreated, can lead to dental problems. The infection can cause:

  • Gum disease: Bacteria can inflame and infect your gums, leading to gingivitis or periodontitis.
  • Tooth loss: Severe gum disease can cause your teeth to become loose and even fall out.
  • Mouth sores: Persistent sores and ulcers in your mouth can result from the infection, making eating and speaking uncomfortable.

Potential Complications in Women

For women, untreated chlamydia can lead to more severe reproductive health issues:

  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID): This condition occurs when the infection spreads to the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries. PID can cause chronic pelvic pain and damage reproductive organs.
  • Ectopic Pregnancy: Chlamydia can increase the risk of an ectopic pregnancy, where a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, often in a fallopian tube. This can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention.

Additional Risks

Chlamydia can also cause other health complications:

  • Reactive Arthritis: This condition, also known as Reiter's syndrome, can develop after a chlamydia infection. It causes inflammation in various parts of the body, including the eyes, urethra, and joints.
  • Perihepatitis: Also known as Fitz-Hugh-Curtis syndrome, this condition involves inflammation of the liver's outer lining. It can cause severe pain in the upper right abdomen.

Why Testing and Treatment are Crucial

Testing and treating chlamydia promptly can save you from many health complications. Ignoring symptoms or delaying treatment can lead to serious consequences.

Importance of Early Detection

Detecting chlamydia early can prevent severe health problems. When you catch the infection early, you can treat it before it spreads and causes more damage. For instance, treating chlamydia early can prevent pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women and avoid the risk of ectopic pregnancy. Early detection also reduces the chances of spreading the infection to others.

Consulting a Doctor

If you think you might have been exposed to chlamydia or if you have symptoms such as unusual discharge, pain during urination, or a sore throat, consult a doctor immediately. Medical professionals can recommend the right tests and treatment. Don’t wait for symptoms to worsen. Seek medical advice as soon as possible to get the appropriate care you need.

Regular STI Screening

Regular STI screening is essential for sexually active individuals. Many STIs, including chlamydia, often show no symptoms. Regular testing ensures that infections are detected early, even if you don’t feel sick. Most health experts recommend getting screened at least once a year. However, if you have multiple partners or engage in unprotected sex, more frequent testing might be necessary.

Ease of Treatment

Chlamydia is easy to treat with antibiotics, making early detection even more valuable. The most commonly prescribed antibiotics for chlamydia are azithromycin and doxycycline. These medications are highly effective when taken as directed. Completing the full course of antibiotics is crucial to ensure the infection is completely cleared.

Key Points:

  • Effective antibiotics: Azithromycin and doxycycline can cure chlamydia.
  • Follow treatment plan: Complete the full course of medication to avoid recurrence.

Prevention of Future Infections

At TeleTest, we offer oral swabs and if necessary, immediate medication. Treating chlamydia not only cures the current infection but also helps prevent future infections. Practicing safe sex by using condoms or dental dams can reduce the risk of contracting chlamydia and other STIs. After treatment, ensure to get re-tested to confirm the infection is gone and to avoid spreading it to others.

Disclaimer: This blog post is intended for educational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. Always consult your healthcare provider for personal health concerns.