While chlamydia usually infects the mucous membranes of the genitals or anus, it can also infect other areas of the body, including the throat. Oral chlamydia, while less common, can also be spread through unprotected oral sex.
While more than 1.5 million people are infected with chlamydia each year, the real number is likely much higher. That is because this bacterial infection often called the ‘silent disease’ is likely largely underdiagnosed. A mixture of a lack of symptoms and failure to test makes this sexually transmitted infection the most common.
What is Oral Chlamydia?
Chlamydia is an infection caused by a bacteria called chlamydia trachomatis. This bacteria lives in the mucous membranes of the body. While that usually means the cervix in women or the urethra or anus in men and women, it can also mean the throat or the eyes. Chlamydia in the throat is called a pharyngeal chlamydia infection.
This bacteria can be present in sperm or vaginal fluid. Getting this fluid in your eye or throat is one way that it is spread. It can also be spread through oral sex.
How is Oral Chlamydia Spread?
With 50% of men and 75% of women experiencing no symptoms while infected with Chlamydia, regular screenings are important to prevent the spread of this STD.
While many may consider penetrative sex without a condom ‘risky behaviour’ chlamydia can also be spread through oral sex. It is less common than genital or anal chlamydia.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the risks of getting oral chlamydia increase if:
- You perform oral sex on a male that has an infected penis.
- You perform oral sex on a female that has an infected vagina or urinary tract.
- You perform oral sex on a male or female that has an infected rectum.
Furthermore, you are also at risk when receiving oral sex from an infected partner. Risk increases if you:
- Receive oral sex on the penis from a partner with chlamydia in the throat.
- Receive oral sex on the vagina from a partner with chlamydia in the throat. This can result in chlamydia of the vagina or urinary tract.
- Receive oral sex on the anus from a partner with chlamydia in the throat.
Related: A common treatable disease Chlamydia
Symptoms of Oral Chlamydia
While some cases of oral chlamydia may be asymptomatic or mild, others are hard to detect because they mimic other infections.
Signs of chlamydia usually manifest within 1 to 3 weeks of infection but in some cases, it may take longer.
- The most commonly experienced symptom is a persistent sore throat that can last for days. The discomfort may be consistent or intermittent.
- Pain when swallowing.
- Low-grade fever.
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
- Painless sores in the mouth.
- Lesions around the mouth can appear similar to cold sores.
- Redness with white spots on tonsils resembling strep throat.
- Scratchy, dry throat.
Who is at Risk for Oral Chlamydia?
According to the CDC, the rate of infection for chlamydia is highest in sexually active women 25 and under. It is important to get yearly screening, especially if you have a new sexual partner. It is important to get screened during pregnancy as chlamydia can be passed onto your unborn child. Moreover, it is also important to use protection during oral sex as well as penetrative sex.
Those who are Considered at High Risk of Contracting Oral Chlamydia Include:
- Men and women who receive oral sex without a condom or dental dam.
- Those who engage in oral sex with an infected partner.
- Men and women who perform oral sex without a condom or dental dam.
- Those who engage in oral sex with multiple partners.
How is Chlamydia Diagnosed?
While genital chlamydia is diagnosed with a urine test along with a swab on the cervix or tip of the penis, oral chlamydia is much less invasive. To test for this bacterial mouth infection the throat is swabbed. It is also possible to have chlamydia in the throat as well as the genitals at the same time.
How is Chlamydia Treated?
When caught early, chlamydia is easily treated with antibiotics. The longer it is left untreated, the more difficult it is to treat the infection. Chlamydia symptoms in the mouth requires treatment with antibiotics as well.
Chlamydia is treated with a full round of oral antibiotics. It is recommended that any person with that you have had sexual contact within the last 60 days also be treated. This is an important step in preventing the further spread of the infection.
It is possible to get reinfected with chlamydia. It is also important that your partner gets screened and treated. This will avoid potentially passing the infection back and forth between you.
It is possible to spread chlamydia while on antibiotics. It is advised to avoid sexual contact for seven days after you complete a full round of antibiotics. Even if you are no longer experiencing any symptoms. It is recommended to get retested three months after you complete your treatment.
Oral chlamydia cannot resolve itself without treatment. Commonly prescribed antibiotics include
Importance of Screening
Chlamydia is the most common notifiable disease. While screening efforts have expanded over the past 20 years, many at-risk women are still not being tested. While oral chlamydia is less common, it is still a risk.
Oral sex without protection is still a risky behaviour and can result in chlamydia.
How to Prevent Oral Chlamydia
- Use condoms or dental dams every time when having oral sex with a new partner or a partner who could potentially be infected.
- Limit your number of sexual partners. Those with multiple partners are at higher risk.
- Avoid sexual contact with partners who have not been tested.
- Get tested regularly and make sure your partners do the same.
When to Consult a Doctor
Starting the treatment at the right time can help prevent any serious risks or complications. Chat with one of our board-certified online doctors at Your Doctors Online for an oral chlamydia test, or start your oral chlamydia treatment immediately!
FAQs About Oral Chlamydia Answered By Your Doctors Online Team
Oral chlamydia is less common, however possible. It is also called a pharyngeal chlamydia infection. Unprotected oral sex increases the risk of contracting oral chlamydia.
In some cases, symptoms can resolve on their own. However, it is best to consult your doctor, get tested and start the proper treatment to avoid complications caused by chlamydia.
How do you know if you have oral chlamydia?
You may experience a persistent sore throat that can last for days in case of oral chlamydia. The discomfort may be consistent or intermittent. Other symptoms include pain when swallowing, tonsillitis, redness with white spots resembling strep throat and a scratchy/dry throat.
However uncommon, it is possible to get chlamydia from oral intercourse.
The risk increases if you receive/perform oral sex without a condom or dental dam, engage in oral sex with an infected partner or have oral sex with multiple partners.
It is still possible to spread chlamydia while on antibiotics. Therefore, it is advised to avoid sexual contact for seven days after completing a full round of antibiotics.
Typically, urine samples are used to diagnose chlamydia, but that does not help diagnose chlamydia in the throat. So instead, a doctor takes a swab from your throat to test for oral chlamydia.
Chlamydia cannot be transmitted through kissing, hugging or sharing drinking glasses.
Oral chlamydia, sore throat or mouth chlamydia requires treatment with antibiotics. Commonly prescribed antibiotics include azithromycin or doxycycline.
Strep throat can spread quickly from person to person. You can get strep throat by contacting the nose fluids or saliva of someone infected. It is passed on through droplets like if an infected person coughs or you come in contact with an infected surface.
Home remedies do not help cure chlamydia. It is essential to take antibiotics to cure chlamydia and treat chlamydia symptoms in the mouth or genitals.
Symptoms of chlamydia last one to two weeks with treatment. It is important to complete treatment and abstain from intercourse for one week during treatment to avoid reinfection.
Taking the proper treatment at the right time and completing the treatment will help ensure recurrence. However, if you have intercourse with an infected person, you can contract chlamydia again.