Yes Really – You Can Get Chlamydia In This Body Part

Open wide and say argh?!
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When we think of sexually transmitted infections (STI), we probably associate them with genitals. But many aren’t aware that STIs can affect other parts of our body, like our mouth, skin and eyes.

However, it’s actually pretty easy (and common) for people to catch STIs and for them to impact different parts of the body. Dr Neel Patel from LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor says, “Non-genital STIs may infect areas of the face such as the mouth, lips, throat, tongue and eyes, or other parts of the body including the groin, thighs and buttocks.

“For example, if semen were to get into the eyes accidentally, you could contract chlamydia in the eye, resulting in symptoms similar to conjunctivitis.”

So yes, you can get chlamydia in both your mouth and eyes – but chlamydia isn’t the only STI to be aware of.

“Chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, herpes, HPV, HIV, scabies and trichomoniasis can all be contracted through areas other than the genitals,” warns Dr Patel. “These types of STIs are transmitted through contact with another individual’s infected genitals, anus, semen or vaginal or cervical fluids. The infection may even be passed on through contaminated body parts or items, such as a sex toy.”

How can you prevent non-genital STIs?

While contracting an STI is nothing to be ashamed of, it’s crucial to protect yourself against STIs where possible as they can be detrimental to your health.

Dr Patel advises that regular testing can prevent transmission of STIs from partner to partner by catching them early.

“You should also always avoid having sex with anyone who has any potential symptoms of an STI. This may include genital sores, a rash or unusual discharge,” he says.

But, it’s important to remember that STIs can be contracted without penetrative sex like penis in vagina (PIV) or anal. Oral sex can also make you vulnerable to STIs.

“For oral sex, a condom or dental dam (a rectangular piece of latex that covers the genitals or anus) can be used to stop STIs being transmitted through the mouth.

“Thoroughly washing your hands after sex can also help to prevent the spread of non-genital STIs,” Dr Patel recommends.

However, washing hands, using condoms and other methods of contraception aren’t a silver bullet when it comes to protection. Nothing is 100% effective, after all.

“STIs like Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and HPV can also be prevented through vaccines. And the medication, PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) can reduce the risk of contracting HIV,” adds Dr Patel.

How do you test for non-genital STIs?

Thankfully, getting tested for non-genital STIs is a simple process that can be done by your GP or at specialist clinics for free. If you’re worried about feeling a bit embarrassed (but, we repeat, there is nothing to be ashamed of), you can order a home test kit too – although these might not all be suitable for non-genital testing.

“Testing for non-genital STIs is typically carried out by sampling the area that may have been infected, as well as traditional urine and blood tests. For example, if you are experiencing symptoms that affect your eyes, a healthcare professional may swab your eyes and send this sample for testing,” says Dr Patel.

How do you treat non-genital STIs?

Depending on which STI you have, the treatment will look a little different.

“STI treatments work to get rid of the STI whether you have a genital or non-genital STI. Based on your consultation, the clinician will take into account the types of sex you have had and prescribe the right treatment for you,” explains Dr Patel.

Some STIs like HIV and herpes will require lifelong management.