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Chlamydia is a bacterial sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can be transmitted during unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex. It can infect the urethra, cervix, anus, throat, and eyes. Chlamydia is the most commonly reported bacterial STI in Australia. Most people with chlamydia do not experience symptoms and do not know they have it until tested. Chlamydia is easily treated with antibiotics. If left untreated, chlamydia can cause serious complications such as infertility and chronic pain.

Signs and Symptoms

Content warning: click to show images of symptoms

Chlamydia is usually asymptomatic, but if symptoms do occur, it will usually be within 1 to 3 weeks of exposure. If left untreated, chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), leading to chronic pain and infertility. Untreated chlamydia can also cause pain and swelling in one or both testicles. ​​Chlamydia is also known to cause other complications such as arthritis.







Chlamydia is mainly transmitted through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex or through infected body fluids entering the eye. Because chlamydia often has no symptoms, many people do not realise they have an infection.

Chlamydia can be transmitted via: 

  • Unprotected/’natural’ oral, vaginal or anal sex
  • Mutual masturbation and fingering or fisting without gloves or other barriers
  • Sharing sex toys without using condoms
  • Semen or vaginal fluids entering the eyes
  • Docking or nudging without condoms
  • Parent to baby during birth

Chlamydia can be spread even when the person with chlamydia has no symptoms.


As chlamydia is often asymptomatic, regular sexual health screening is highly recommended. You can view a list of sex worker-friendly sexual health clinics at our Where To Test page.

Additional ways to prevent chlamydia transmission include:

  • Using condoms for vaginal and anal sex
  • Using condoms for blow jobs 
  • Avoiding touching the genitals or eyes if your hands have come in contact with body fluids
  • Change condoms between vaginal or anal sex and blow jobs to avoid spreading a potential infection to your throat.
  • Use condoms on toys if you are sharing them. Change condoms between partners or when moving them from one body part to another (for example, the vagina to the mouth). It is recommended that you always change condoms when going from anal to vaginal or oral sex.
  • Point the penis away from the face during Spanish or hand relief to prevent semen from getting in the eyes
  • One way to tell if a client with a penis has chlamydia is to ‘milk’ the penis (before they shower or go to the toilet). Gently squeeze the penis along the shaft and if a thick discharge appears, it may be chlamydia. Remember that not all infections show symptoms, and when they do, they don’t all look the same. Infected discharge can look very similar to pre-cum. Find out how to perform a sexual health check on a client here.
  • Hold the base of the condom when withdrawing, so semen doesn’t spill out.


Here’s some information about testing for chlamydia. You can view a list of sex worker-friendly sexual health clinics at our Where To Test page.

Testing Method

When to Test

Other Info


Chlamydia is easily treatable. Here’s what you need to know about treating it.   

Treatment Method/s

Costs and Other Information 

How might this impact my work? 

Practical Considerations

Legal and Reporting Considerations

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