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Chlamydia Symptoms

How long do chlamydia symptoms take to appear?

If symptoms appear at all in chlamydia infections, they typically manifest 1-3 weeks after exposure. This bacterial infection can be contracted via oral, vaginal or anal sex.

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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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Chlamydia in women

Chlamydia is the most frequently reported sexually transmitted bacterial infection in the United States. In 2011 alone, approximately 1.4 million chlamydia cases were reported to the CDC. It is CDC estimated that 1 out of 15 sexually active teenage girls (ages 14-19) has a chlamydia infection. Chlamydia is easy to spread because it’s likeliness to have very mild or no symptoms, and thus many unknowingly pass it on to others. The CDC recommends that sexually active women get tested for STDs on an annual basis. Getting tested regularly is especially important since chlamydia infection increases the risk of contracting another STD such as HIV.

How chlamydia infects women

The chlamydia bacterium first infects the cervix (the passageway which joins the vagina and the uterus). Symptoms of a chlamydia infection may include vaginal discharge, bleeding between periods, painful urination and stomach pain. From there, the infection may spread upward to the urethra (urine canal), the uterus (womb) and the Fallopian tubes (tubes that carry fertilized eggs from the ovaries to the uterus). If the infection is left untreated, it can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). In addition, chlamydia can lead to serious consequences such as infertility and ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy in which the embryo develops outside of the womb).

Chlamydia Symptoms in Women

Most Common

  • Silent or no symptoms (in 75% of women with chlamydia)

Less Common

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge (may have an odor)
  • Pain during urination
  • Rectal pain, discharge or bleeding
  • Inflamed eye

Least Common

  • Bleeding between menstrual cycles
  • Lower bellyache
  • Lower back pain
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Pain during sex
  • Sore throat

Chlamydia in men

Like women, many men with chlamydia do not experience any symptoms due to the "silent' nature of the infection. 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. An untreated chlamydia infection in men can result in nongonococcal urethritis (NGU), an infection of the urethra, as well as epididymitis, an infection of the epididymis (the tube that carries sperm away from the testes). For these reasons, men who regularly engage in sexual activity should value the importance of annual chlamydia testing.

Chlamydia Symptoms in Men

Most Common

  • Silent or no symptoms (in 50% of men with chlamydia)

Less Common

  • Abnormal penile discharge (thick, yellow-white, milky or watery)
  • Pain during urination
  • Rectal pain, discharge or bleeding
  • Inflamed eye

Least Common

  • Itching and burning around the opening of the penis
  • Testicular pain and swelling
  • Sore throat

Untreated chlamydia can lead to health complications

Both men and women may experience rectal, eye and throat symptoms due to chlamydia. Individuals who contract a chlamydia infection during anal sex may experience symptoms as rectal pain, bleeding or discharge. An untreated infection can also lead to an inflammation of the rectum in both men and women. Chlamydia can also infect the eyelids, leading to inflammation and conjunctivitis (eyelid discharge). In some cases, a chlamydia infection transmitted during oral sex may lead to a sore throat. Our doctors recommend seeking medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms to avoid any serious or deadly complications.

  1. "Which STD Tests Should I Get? | Prevention | STDs | CDC." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/std/prevention/screeningreccs.htm
  2. Redgrove, Kate A., and Eileen A. McLaughlin. "The Role of the Immune Response in Chlamydia Trachomatis Infection of the Male Genital Tract: A Double-Edged Sword." Frontiers in Immunology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4209867/
  3. Shim, Bong Suk. "Current Concepts in Bacterial Sexually Transmitted Diseases." Korean Journal of Urology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3198230/
  4. "STDs on the Rise Press Release, 2015 | CDC." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/newsroom/2015/std-surveillance-report-press-release.html

Medically Reviewed by on Jun 18, 2019

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