Can You Get Chlamydia Anally?

In a word, yes.

Chlamydia is the most-reported bacterial sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2020, about 129 million new cases of chlamydia were logged, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, three to four million of them in the United States.

Chlamydia is spread through sexual contact with another person, mostly affecting younger people between 15 and 24 years old. Because the STI is so common, it's helpful to understand how it's transmitted.

Does Chlamydia Spread Through Anal Sex?

In short, yes, it does. Chlamydia spreads through vaginal, oral, and anal sex with someone who has the infection, which is carried in semen and vaginal fluids. The fluids can infect the vagina, penis, cervix, urethra, and anus, which is how it spreads through anal sex.

What Other STIs Can Be Transmitted Through Anal Sex?

Along with chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis can also be transmitted through the rectum if you have anal sex with an infected partner, said Karen Brodman, MD, a gynecologist in New York City. Your risk of one of these STIs increases if you develop small tears or nicks in the thin skin of the anus, through which the bacteria can get into your system.

STIs transmitted through skin contact, such as genital herpes or human papillomavirus (HPV), can develop in or outside the anus and rectum, said Dr. Brodman. Herpes may also show up as sores on the skin of the buttocks. Additionally, HIV is spread via anal sex, as are bloodborne viruses such as hepatitis B and C.

What Are the Symptoms of Chlamydia?

You may or may not develop symptoms, but here are what to watch for:

painful urination

discharge from the penis or vagina

painful sexual intercourse in women

bleeding between periods and after sexual intercourse

testicular pain

rectal pain

Less frequently, you may develop symptoms elsewhere in your body if infected genital fluids are transported to those places.

In your eyes: If you get infected fluid on your hands and rub your eyes, you can contract chlamydial eye infections called conjunctivitis. The signs include pain, swelling, redness, and discharge.

In your throat: If you have oral sex with a person who has chlamydia, the soft, moist tissues of the back of the mouth and throat may be infected.

What Should You Do If You Get Chlamydia?

"When not detected or treated early, (STIs) cause harmful, sometimes, irreversible and costly clinical implications," according to a 2021 study published in the Journal of Public Health.

If you develop symptoms of chlamydia, contact your healthcare provider, who will likely prescribe antibiotics. The sooner you know that you are infected, the more quickly chlamydia can be cleared up. STI testing will help diagnose conditions early and should be done routinely if you are sexually active, advises Planned Parenthood.

Further, you'll want to make sure you talk to your partner if you have a confirmed—or potential—case of chlamydia. Communication is key so that everyone involved can get tested or retested and get the treatment they need.

Also, even if you've been treated for chlamydia before, you can get it again if you have sex with someone who has the infection, according to the CDC, which has provided specific guidelines for STI prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.

The best defense against chlamydia and all other STIs is using preventive methods, such as condoms and dental dams, when you engage in sexual activity.

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