Chlamydia is a common bacterial sexually transmitted infection that is spread through oral, vaginal, and anal sex. Although most people don’t show symptoms, left untreated, chlamydia can damage the reproductive system, making it hard to have children.
At least 50% of the time, chlamydia has no symptoms in men and women which contributes to the disease being extremely common and easily spread. It can be easily cured with antibiotics; get tested today if you think you may have been exposed.
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Most people with chlamydia don’t know they have it. A hefty 75% of infected women and 50% of infected men experience no signs.1 The silent nature of chlamydia is part of the reason why it’s so common.
If chlamydia symptoms do occur, they typically appear between 1-3 weeks after infection.2 Signs of chlamydia can be so mild that people don’t realize them or mistake them for something else.
If you notice symptoms of chlamydia or think you may have been exposed, it’s important to get chlamydia tested.
Most infected women do not experience symptoms.
Chlamydia symptoms in women can include:
When symptoms do occur in men, they may include a thick, yellow-white, milky or watery discharge from the penis and/or a burning sensation during urination. Pain and swelling in the testes may also occur, although such symptoms are less common. It is more common for men to experience symptoms. However, many do not.
Chlamydia symptoms in men can include:
Both men and women can get chlamydia in the throat from oral sex, or the anus from anal sex with an infected partner. Most of the time, these conditions do not cause any symptoms.
Though less common, people can get chlamydia in the eye when infected semen, pre-cum, or vaginal secretions come into contact with the eye. This can happen during direct content or by rubbing your eye without washing your hands.
Signs of chlamydia in the throat can include:
Signs of anal chlamydia can include:
Signs of chlamydia in the eye can include:
If you or your sexual partner have any of these symptoms, you should stop having oral, vaginal, and anal sex until you can get tested and find out what’s going on. Visit your doctor or get tested at a local std testing center.
If you don’t seek treatment to clear chlamydia, it may lead to long-term and serious health problems, even if you are not experiencing symptoms. Also, if someone with a chlamydia infection has sex with a partner who has HIV, the inflammation caused by chlamydia can increase the risk of contracting HIV.3
In women, untreated chlamydia can spread from the cervix (the passageway from the vagina to the uterus) up to the urethra (urine canal), the uterus (womb), and fallopian tubes (the passageway that carries eggs from the ovaries to the uterus). This can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), damaging the tissue of the reproductive organs. PID may cause chronic pelvic pain, dangerous ectopic pregnancy, or infertility.4
If you’re a pregnant woman with chlamydia, you can pass the infection to your baby during delivery. This can cause eye infections and pneumonia and make you more likely to give birth too early. This is why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting tested for chlamydia early on in your pregnancy, especially if you are someone who is at risk.5
In men, untreated chlamydia can lead to urethral scarring and infection, swollen and tender testicles, prostatitis, and male sterility. Chlamydia can cause nongonococcal urethritis (NGU), an infection of the urethra, as well as epididymitis, an infection of the epididymis (the tube that carries sperm from the testes).
Reactive arthritis is a painful form of inflammatory arthritis that can occur in reaction to certain bacterial infections, including chlamydial infection. It can cause pain and swelling of certain joints, often the knees and/or ankles, as well as the heels, toes, or fingers. It may also cause persistent lower back pain. If you develop arthritis within a month of chlamydia infection, you should see a health care provider, like a rheumatologist, to determine the best course of treatment.6
To prevent chlamydia from progressing and causing complications, get tested for chlamydia to know for sure if you have it. Regularly testing for sexually transmitted diseases is a normal and important part of being responsible and protecting your health while being sexually active, so there’s no need to be worried or ashamed about getting tested or diagnosed. Chlamydia is very common and easily curable with a prescribed course of antibiotics.
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