Can You Get Chlamydia From Kissing?

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Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection (STI), caused by the bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis.

It primarily affects the genitals and is contracted through sexual activity. Often, people do not know they have the infection, as symptoms are not always present. Around 70% of women and 50% of men don’t experience symptoms at all. This is why it’s so easily spread.

Chlamydia is common young adults between the ages of 18 to 25.

There are many misconceptions around how you get chlamydia. In this article, we discuss whether you can get chlamydia from kissing, or whether it is one of those misconceptions around this STI.


Can you get chlamydia from kissing?

You cannot catch chlamydia from kissing, even if the person you kiss has chlamydia in the throat.


How about if tongues were used?

If you’re kissing and using tongues, you’ll be exchanging saliva. However, chlamydia is not transmitted through saliva. You will not get chlamydia from tongue kissing. 

Chlamydia is spread through contact with infected body fluids that include semen, pre-ejaculatory fluid and vaginal secretions but not saliva.


What about if the person I kissed had chlamydia in their throat?

Chlamydia usually affects a person’s genitals as they get it whilst having sexual intercourse. However, you can get chlamydia in your throat after performing oral sex or anal rimming on an infected partner.

Reassuringly though, you can still kiss someone with chlamydia in their throat and not catch chlamydia yourself.

To get chlamydia, you would need to:

  • Have unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex.
  • Share unwashed sex toys or not cover them with a new condom each time you use them.
  • Have your genitals come into contact with your partner's genitals. You can get chlamydia without sexual penetration, an orgasm or ejaculation.
  • Get infected semen or vaginal fluid in your eye.


So, what STIs can you catch from kissing?

Other common STI’s can be caught from kissing. These include herpes, syphilis and cytomegalovirus.


Herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). There are two different but similar viruses called herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2).

Oral herpes (HSV-1), also known as cold sores, is usually contracted from kissing. Genital herpes (most commonly caused by HSV-2), is less likely to be passed on by kissing but is most often spread through vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Both can by asymptomatic, or cause sores and blisters in or around the mouth for cold sores, or around the genital or anal area for genital herpes.

HSV-1 can be asymptomatic or cause very mild symptoms that can be easy to miss. An outbreak can cause cold sores or blisters in and around your mouth. Some people notice tingling, burning, or itching in the area before sores appear.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for HSV. But treatments are available to help manage symptoms of both HSV-1 and HSV-2 and help prevent or shorten the length of outbreaks.


Syphilis is a bacterial infection that spreads through direct contact with a syphilis sore. These sores can develop on your genitals, in your mouth, or on your lips.

It isn’t usually transmitted by kissing. More often it is spread through genital, oral or anal sex. However, if syphilis causes sores around your mouth and/or lips, the bacteria can be transmitted to someone else.

Syphilis won’t go away on its own and should be treated with a course of antibiotics.


Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is very common. It can be spread through direct contact with bodily fluids that contain the virus including saliva, urine, semen, blood, tears and breast milk. It can therefore be passed on by kissing. Most people with CMV are unaware that they have it.

If you get a CMV infection, you will have it for life, and it can reactivate. There is no cure for CMV, but most people do not need treatment.

If your immune system is healthy, it usually prevents CMV from causing severe infection or illness. However, babies, children and adults with reduced immune function may get CMV symptoms and will need antiviral medications to help manage it.


How do I know if I have chlamydia?

Often, you won’t know that you have chlamydia as many people with the virus don’t show any symptoms. At least half of men and 70% of women have no symptoms.

If you do have symptoms, they normally show within one to three weeks of infection.

Chlamydia symptoms in men include:

  • a whitish, cloudy or watery discharge
  • testicle pain and swelling
  • pain when peeing
  • burning or itching in the urethra tube that carries urine out of your body

Chlamydia symptoms in women include:

  • a change in vaginal discharge, often yellow and smelly
  • pain when peeing
  • lower back or stomach pain
  • pain whilst having sex
  • bleeding between periods or after sex

For both men and women, you may experience discomfort and discharge in your anus (if you had anal sex) and pain, redness and/or discharge in your eye (conjunctivitis). Chlamydia in the throat is also possible, and is contracted via oral sex, not kissing. Symptoms include a sore throat, spots towards the back of the mouth and sores in and around the mouth.

If you have any chlamydia symptoms, you should see your GP, community contraceptive service or local genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic as soon as possible to have a chlamydia test.


What to do if you test positive for chlamydia

If you test positive for chlamydia or if it's very likely you have the infection, you will be given a course of antibiotics. You should start this as soon as possible. Chlamydia is unlikely to go away without treatment, and can cause health complications if it is not dealt with promptly. Over 95% of people will be cured of chlamydia if they take their antibiotic medication correctly.

Chlamydia treatment for men and women is the same. The recommended treatment for chlamydia is doxycycline and should be taken twice daily for 7 days. Azithromycin is an alternative treatment if doxycycline is not suitable and is taken over 3 days. Doxycycline is the more effective chlamydia treatment. Both come in tablets or pills and are swallowed whole with water. If you have chlamydia symptoms they usually disappear within a week or two after completing the treatment.

Whilst all of our content is written and reviewed by healthcare professionals, it is not intended to be substituted for or used as medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, please speak to your doctor.