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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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.
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).
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.
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.