Chlamydia is the most common reported STI among young people in Australia. It can affect both males and females and is caused by a type of bacteria.

Page last updated: 20 July 2014

Fast facts

  • Chlamydia was the most frequently reported STI in Australia in 2012, with 82,707 new cases.
  • This amounts to 355 cases per every 100,000 people.
  • Even higher rates were recorded in remote areas. 81% of reported cases are 15-24 year olds. 1

Causes and reducing risk factors

It is usually spread by vaginal or anal sex without a condom.

Always use a condom with water-based lubricant to avoid getting chlamydia.

Identifying the symptoms

  • Invisible

    Most people don’t have any immediate symptoms. If you have had unprotected sex, see your doctor about a test.
  • For males

    If you are a male, look out for a clear discharge from your penis or pain when you urinate.
  • For females

    If you are a female, you may experience bleeding between periods or after sex, pain when urinating or pelvic pain.

Dangers if not treated

Just over half of secondary students are aware that chlamydia affects both males and females (60%) and can lead to sterility amongst females (56%).[2]

If left untreated in females, chlamydia could lead to pelvic inflammatory disease causing chronic pelvic pain and even infertility. In males it can lead to longer-term infection of the testicles.

Getting checked

A simple swab or urine test will determine if you have chlamydia.

To get checked out or for confidential advice talk to your doctor or visit your local sexual health clinic.

There is a list of Public Sexual Health Clinics across Australian provided by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians.

Treatment is easy

Chlamydia is easily treated with antibiotics. It’s important to avoid sex until you’ve finished your full course of treatment and for at least a week following. If you can’t do this then a condom must be used.

Your responsibilities

If you have chlamydia it is your responsibility to let all your sexual partners from at least the past six months know so that they can be tested and treated if needed. For advice on how to make it easier to tell them visit the let them know website.

In most cases you’re not obliged to notify teachers or your boss if you’ve been diagnosed with an STI. There are some rare exceptions for certain professionals who have been diagnosed with a virus like HIV or hepatitis B. Ask your doctor for advice if you are unsure.

Prevention tips

Always use a condom with water-based lubricant to avoid getting chlamydia.

[1] HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmissible infections in Australia –Annual Surveillance Report 2013.

[2] National Survey of Australian Secondary Students and Sexual Health.