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Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by a bacterium

Chlamydia trachomatis is the bacterium that causes chlamydia and trachoma, an eye disease.

Chlamydia is spread by sexual contact or from mother to baby

The bacterium is found in infected body fluids from the penis or vagina and spread by direct sexual contact.

If a woman has chlamydia and is not treated, she may get a serious infection in her reproductive organs, making it difficult for her to have children.

The eyes, ears, and lungs of babies can get infected if the mother has chlamydia at the time of childbirth. This type of lung infection in babies can be very serious.

Many men and women can have chlamydia and have no symptoms. They can still pass it to their sex partners even if they have no symptoms.

For those people who do have symptoms, some of the signs of chlamydia to look for are:

  • Discharge from the penis, vagina, or rectum
  • For women, cramps or pain in the lower abdomen
  • Burning or itching around the opening of the penis
  • Pain in the testicles in men
  • Pain when urinating

Symptoms of chlamydia start 7 to 30 days after sexual contact with an infected person.

Chlamydia is treatable with antibiotics

Since the symptoms of chlamydia and gonorrhea are similar and both diseases can occur at the same time, everyone treated for gonorrhea should also be treated for chlamydia.

You can keep yourself from getting Chlamydia

  • Avoid infection by abstaining from sex or by being monogamous, that is, only have sex with one person who only has sex with you
  • Use condoms each and every time you have sex
  • Know the signs of chlamydia

If you think you or your partners have chlamydia, do not have sex until you see your doctor If you have chlamydia, tell your partners so that they can be treated Do not have sex until both you and your partners have finished antibiotic treatment.

MD Department of Health & Mental Hygiene – Epidemiology & Disease Control Program
May 2002