What to Do About the Dreaded “Chlamydia Throat”
Chlamydia is a bacterial infection transmitted through sexual contact with the penis, vagina, mouth, or anus of an infected partner. Certain Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) affect only the genital area. However, some STIs can affect other regions as well. Chlamydia is one of these.
Usually you get chlamydia in the throat by going down on a partner that has chlamydia. Chances are, like 80 percent of Americans, you’ve engaged in oral sex—which is why you should get an oral chlamydia test. Although chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STD), you probably won’t know if you have oral chlamydia without specifically testing for it.
How Can You Get Oral Chlamydia?
There has to be sex for there to be a danger of transmission. Oral sex and anal sex are exactly that – sex! If you’ve ever performed oral sex, you are at risk for this STD. If someone who has oral chlamydia performs oral sex on your genitals, you could be infected with chlamydia. You can get oral chlamydia by deep-kissing someone with the infection although it is rare. You won’t get it by sharing a toothbrush or drinking out of the same glass.
Granted, with oral sex there is typically less risk involved than “traditional” intercourse, but you and your partner are still prone to infection. The problem is that most people are never properly screened. They wait to experience detectable symptoms before getting tested without realizing that when it comes to chlamydia there may never be identifiable symptoms. And if you don’t know you’re infected, you may be continually passing chlamydia to your sexual partners. In time, untreated chlamydia can develop harmful side effects.
What Are The Symptoms of Chlamydia Throat?
Pop quiz time: what’s the difference between throat chlamydia and chlamydia in the genitals? If you’re not sure, don’t feel bad. Many of us don’t even realize that there are multiple types of this sexually transmitted infection.
To further complicate matters, both genital and throat chlamydia can be difficult to detect without proper screening. Both forms, in addition to rectal chlamydia, may never show any visible symptoms. You see, chlamydia is typically an asymptomatic infection.
If chlamydia in the throat does shows symptoms at all, they are often as simple as a sore throat and possibly a low grade fever and/or swollen lymph nodes. All of these are easily mistaken for something else if a doctor isn’t specifically looking for chlamydia.
There are two sides to this coin. Since symptoms are mild, and so many different things can cause a sore throat and fever, the infection is often dismissed and goes untreated. This may make chlamydia seem like no big deal. The truth is, neglecting regular screenings can cause the infection to get worse even if there are have never been any symptoms in the first place.
- Sore throat
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Low-grade fever (rare)
If you don’t get screened for oral chlamydia and you have an infection, it can get worse. Fortunately, chlamydia is easy to treat, but when it is undetected and untreated, it can lead to serious consequences, including pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), infertility and chronic pelvic pain.
What is Extragenital Testing?
As we’ve mentioned, chlamydia comes in several varieties. The oral variety is trickier to test for than you may expect. Today, we’ll review the most common throat chlamydia symptoms. After this, we’ll show you how to screen for this particular sexually transmitted infection.
If there’s a chance you’ve been exposed to chlamydia, the only way to know for sure if you’re infected is to get tested. A standard genital only test uses a urine sample. Sadly, urine tests will not detect oral chlamydia. A throat swab is required. This is known as “extragenital testing.” As you can probably guess, “extragenital” refers to the areas of the body aside from the genitals. Typically, this involves a three-site test that will check the rectum and throat in addition to the normal genital test.
Many healthcare providers won’t ask specific questions about what kind of sexual behavior has transpired. For that reason, they might fail to swab the throat and test only the genitals. Usually, you’ll need to specifically mention to your doctor that you engage in oral or anal sex. This is one of the upsides to at home testing for chlamydia. Nobody knows your sexual behavior better than you do, so at home testing can ensure you check all the right places.
Chlamydia can be treated very quickly once it is diagnosed. According to the CDC, the recommended treatment is a single dose of antibiotics or a 7-day course of antibiotics. That’s all there is to it! It’s important to remember that your partner should also be tested and treated to avoid re-infection.
How Can I Avoid Chlamydia Throat Infection?
Now that you know a bit more about oral chlamydia, here’s how to lower your risk of infection:
When we say “wear condoms during sex,” don’t forget that this includes oral sex, the leading cause of oral chlamydia. If a partner has chlamydia on their genital area and you go down on them, the infection can be passed to your mouth. On the other hand, if your partner has chlamydia on their mouth and they go down on you, it can be passed to your genitals. While condoms don’t always prevent STDs, they definitely lower your risk.
Have “The Talk” With Your Partner
Communication is important in any relationship, whether it’s a one-night stand or you’re with a monogamous partner. Being open with one another, and making sure that you don’t fool around with someone who has not been tested, will help you to avoid unwanted infections. Honesty is the best policy when it comes to most things, and that includes sexually transmitted infections. We get it: having “the talk” can be awkward. But getting an STI is way more inconvenient. Own your confidence and be unabashed about your own wellness.
Get Tested After Sex With a New Partner
It’s always a good idea to get tested on a regular basis, but especially after sexual activity with a new partner. Even if you have “the talk,” they may tell you that they don’t have an STI based on the fact that they don’t have any symptoms. But as we mentioned above, many infections don’t show symptoms. This is why it is vital that you make sure your partner was actually tested. This is the only way to know for sure. You don’t want to put your own health into anyone else’s hands. Testing lets you know your status for sure. It also allows you to get diagnosed and treated early when an infection is detected.
We should note that it’s also a good idea to get tested on a routine basis even if you are in a monogamous relationship. Unfortunately, you can’t guarantee that your partner is being safe and faithful even if you are.
myLAB Box is the first at home testing service to offer extragenital testing, which searches for chlamydia and gonorrhea infections that affect the mouth, throat and rectal regions of your body. The only caveat is that you must know to screen yourself. So if you’re sex life includes oral or anal sex, it’s a good idea to schedule routine extragenital testing.
 This study found that the practice of unprotected oral sex with a partner infected with genital chlamydia resulted in significant occurrence of chlamydia in the throat.
Value of screening for oro-pharyngeal Chlamydia trachomatis infection. Journal of Clinical Pathology. 1995..
 Chlamydia rarely causes symptoms in the throat. If it does, it tends to cause shallow ulcers in the mouth or on the lips which are painless and do not require specific treatment.
Non-genital manifestations of Chlamydia trachomatis. Clinical Medicine. 2003..
 Of 4,299 consultations at an STD clinic, the detection rate for chlamydia in the throat was 1.9% and all cases were asymptomatic.
Screening of oropharynx and anorectum increases prevalence of Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae infection in female STD clinic visitors. Sexually Transmitted Diseases. 2011..
 The specificity of the Amplicor PCR was 100% for pharyngeal swab samples. This is the same test provided in the myLab Box home test kit.
 For treatment, the CDC recommends Azithromycin (single dose) or Doxycycline (taken twice daily for 7 days). Both are available by prescription only but are relatively inexpensive, averaging $25-$85.
Chlamydial Infections. 2015..
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- The Natural History of Untreated Chlamydia trachomatis Infection in the Interval Between Screening and Returning for Treatment. Sexually Transmitted Diseases. 2008. .
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- Oral sex as a risk factor for Chlamydia-negative ureaplasma-negative nongonococcal urethritis. Sexually Transmitted Diseases. 1988. .
- Oral Contraceptives, Chlamydia trachomatis Infection, and Pelvic Inflammatory Disease A Word of Caution About Protection. JAMA. 1985. .
- Chlamydia trachomatis and oral contraceptive use: a quantitative review. BMJ. 1992. .
- Oral contraceptive use and the risk of chlamydial and gonococcal infections. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 1989. .