What is Chlamydia?

Written by NSW Health. Posted in FAQ

Chlamydia is a sexually transmissible infection. It is caused by bacteria. Many people who are infected with the bacteria do not have symptoms but can still transmit it. Chlamydia can affect the urethra (the urine passage), cervix (the neck of the womb), rectum, anus, throat, and eyes. If chlamydia is not properly treated it can cause serious complications.

In women complications include:

  • pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). This is when the reproductive organs that are situated in the pelvis become inflamed
  • pelvic adhesions and chronic pelvic pain
  • infertility due to damage to the fallopian tubes (by scar tissue)
  • eptopic pregnancy (when the pregnancy develops in the fallopian tubes instead of in the uterus).

In men complications include:

  • recurrent urethritis
  • epididymitis (which involves the tube to the testes).

In women and men complications include:

  • arthritis
  • conjunctivitis and uveitis (eye inflammation)
  • proctitis (inflammation of the rectum).

Who is at risk?

The people who are most at risk of catching chlamydia are:

  • young sexually active men and women
  • anyone who has recently changed sexual partners
  • anyone who has recently had another sexually transmitted infection.

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