STDs are generally thought to affect only the genitals, but in some cases, they can also affect the mouth and throat, as is the case with chlamydia. This common STD can be transmitted to the throat in cases of oral sex, which is why it is important to always know the sexual health of your partner.
Continue reading to learn more about chlamydia in the throat, what treatment consists of, and why treatment is important.
Table of Contents
- What Is Chlamydia?
- Can You Get Chlamydia in Your Throat?
- Symptoms Of Chlamydia in The Throat
- What Does Chlamydia in The Throat Look Like?
- What Causes Chlamydia in The Throat?
- Risks Of Chlamydia Infection in The Throat
- How Is It Treated?
- When To See a Doctor?
- How Can DrHouse Help You?
- Key Takeaways
What Is Chlamydia?
Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted disease (STD) that can affect both men and women. It can spread when having vaginal, oral, or anal sex with someone who has chlamydia, and it can also pass from a mother to her baby during childbirth.
A chlamydia infection results from the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis.
Can You Get Chlamydia in Your Throat?
STDs primarily affect the genital areas, but some types of STDs, including chlamydia, can also be spread through oral sex and affect the throat. When chlamydia affects the throat, it is called a pharyngeal chlamydia infection.
Chlamydia bacteria, however, more often infect the groin than the mouth, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) do not consider chlamydia a significant form of throat infection.
Symptoms Of Chlamydia in The Throat
In most cases, those with chlamydia in the throat will have no symptoms. Sometimes, someone with chlamydia may have a sore or swollen throat, but it is common to mistake this symptom as being from the flu, common cold, or strep throat.
Other symptoms of chlamydia in the throat may include:
- dental problems
- mouth sores that do not heal
- mouth pain
- sores around lips and mouth
What Does Chlamydia in The Throat Look Like?
Chlamydia in the throat causes the throat to appear more red than usual. In some individuals, chlamydia in the throat may also present with white spots on the tonsils or back of their throat. Sores may also form around the lips or in the mouth.
Beyond a sore throat, chlamydia in the throat may also cause the tongue to feel bumpier.
What Causes Chlamydia in The Throat?
Someone contracts chlamydia when their mucus membranes come into contact with the chlamydia bacteria, which can be present in the mucous membranes of a sexual partner. Some examples of mucous membranes include the penis, vagina, or rectum. In the case of chlamydia infection, the bacteria enter the mucus membrane and then begin multiplying, causing infection.
If you give oral sex to someone who has chlamydia in the genitals, you may end up with the bacteria in your throat, causing infection. However, it is not possible to spread chlamydia in the throat from mouth-to-mouth kissing.
Risks Of Chlamydia Infection in The Throat
Having chlamydia can make you more vulnerable to other STDs, such as HIV, and the CDC states that having chlamydia in the throat might increase the risk of contracting HIV.
Having chlamydia in the throat can also increase your vulnerability to other infections. This is because your body is focused on fighting the chlamydia infection and is less able to prevent other infections. Because of this, those with chlamydia in the throat might be more susceptible to tooth loss, mouth infection, dental pain, and gum disease.
Leaving chlamydia untreated also comes with risks, including:
- increased risk of preterm delivery in pregnant women
- increased risk of ectopic pregnancy
- pelvic inflammatory disease
- inflammation of the upper genital tract
- reactive arthritis
It is important to see a doctor right away if you have chlamydia and think that you are experiencing any of these complications. Without proper treatment, some of these medical issues related to chlamydia can be irreversible.
How Is It Treated?
Chlamydia is treated with antibiotics, and doctors will often prescribe the same antibiotic to treat all types of chlamydia, whether the infection is centered in the throat or groin.
Doxycycline and azithromycin are two antibiotics commonly prescribed for chlamydia infections. These antibiotics help to slow or stop bacterial growth, ridding your body of the infection.
When receiving treatment, it is crucial to refrain from oral sex or intercourse for at least seven days if you take a one-time antibiotic dose. If your prescribed course of antibiotics is longer, you should wait until you have taken all your medication before engaging in sexual activities.
It is important to continue taking your antibiotics for the complete course as prescribed, even if your symptoms have gone away. Stopping your medication early increases the risk of a recurrent infection.
Even if you finish your medication as prescribed, though, chlamydia still has a high recurrence rate, meaning it is possible to get this type of infection again even if you follow your treatment as prescribed.
When To See a Doctor?
Screening for chlamydia in the throat is not a standard part of STD testing, so if you have a sore throat that won’t go away or a partner who has tested positive for chlamydia that you have had oral sex with, it is often recommended to ask your doctor about screening for chlamydia in the throat.
Your doctor may swab your throat to check for chlamydia, sending the swab to a laboratory that tests for the presence of DNA from the bacteria responsible for chlamydia.
If the test comes back positive for chlamydia, your doctor can get you started on antibiotics to clear the infection.
How Can DrHouse Help You?
With DrHouse you can start an on-demand video consultation with a qualified online doctor who can diagnose and treat your conditions.
Our telehealth service is reliable, secure, and convenient so that you can get the medical attention you need without having to leave your home. Our clinicians can help diagnose and treat your condition, as well as write you prescriptions if needed.
Get started today with DrHouse and you can get the medical care you need without having to wait for an appointment. Our video consultation service is available 24/7 and our qualified clinicians can provide the best care for your conditions.
Chlamydia is a common STD that results from bacterial infection of the genitals, rectum, or throat. It is spread through vaginal, oral, or anal sex with someone who has chlamydia, and while chlamydia most commonly infects the genitals, it can infect the throat.
Many cases of chlamydia in the throat have no symptoms, while some may have symptoms that resemble strep throat. Chlamydia is easily treatable, which is why it is important to see a doctor whenever you think you have chlamydia or were with a partner who had chlamydia. Treatment consists of a course of antibiotics, which are crucial for preventing potential complications from chlamydia infection.
The risk of recurrence in chlamydia is high, so it is important to always be aware of the signs of chlamydia in the throat and see a doctor right away whenever you suspect you have this STD.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2022). Detailed Fact Sheet https://www.cdc.gov/std/chlamydia/stdfact-chlamydia-detailed.htm
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2021). STD Risk and Oral Sex. https://www.cdc.gov/std/healthcomm/stdfact-stdriskandoralsex.htm
- Mohseni M, Sung S, Takov V. Chlamydia. [Updated 2022 Sep 18]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537286/
- Huai, P., Li, F., Chu, T., Liu, D., Liu, J., & Zhang, F. (2020). Prevalence of genital Chlamydia trachomatis infection in the general population: a meta-analysis. BMC Infectious Diseases, 20(1). doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1186/s12879-020-05307-w
- Chan, P. A., Robinette, A., Montgomery, M., Almonte, A., Cu-Uvin, S., Lonks, J. R., Chapin, K. C., Kojic, E. M., & Hardy, E. J. (2016). Extragenital Infections Caused by Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae: A Review of the Literature. Infectious diseases in obstetrics and gynecology, 2016, 5758387. https://doi.org/10.1155/2016/5758387
- Chow, E., & Fairley, C. (2019). The role of saliva in gonorrhoea and chlamydia transmission to extragenital sites among men who have sex with men: new insights into transmission. Journal Of The International AIDS Society, 22(S6). doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1002/jia2.25354
- Final Recommendation Statement: Chlamydia and Gonorrhea: Screening | United States Preventive Services Taskforce. (2023). https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/document/RecommendationStatementFinal/chlamydia-and-gonorrhea-screening