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Chlamydia Symptoms

On This Page: Symptoms | Symptoms in Women | Symptoms in Men | Throat, Anus & Eye | Complications | What to Do

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.

Take Charge of Your Health

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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Symptoms

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 tested.

Chlamydia Symptoms in Women

Most infected women do not experience symptoms.

Chlamydia symptoms in women can include:

  • Yellow vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal swelling
  • Pain during sex
  • Pain or burning when peeing
  • Frequent urge to pee
  • Bleeding between periods or after sex
  • Pain during sex

Chlamydia Symptoms in Men

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:

  • Watery/milky discharge or pus from the penis
  • Pain or burning when peeing
  • Pain or itching in the urethra (the tube that carries urine out of the body)
  • Pain and swelling in one or both of the testicles

Symptoms in the Throat, Anus, and Eye

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:

  • Sore throat
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • Fever
  • Redness in the throat

Signs of anal chlamydia can include:

  • Pain or itching in the anus
  • Anal discharge or bleeding
  • Anal swelling
  • Diarrhea

Signs of chlamydia in the eye can include:

  • Redness
  • Discharge
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Itching and irritation

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 testing center.

Chlamydia Complications

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

Untreated Women Symptoms

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 which 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

Complications During Pregnancy

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

Untreated Men Symptoms

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

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

What Can You Do?

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.

  1. “Chlamydia - Women’s Health Guide.” U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. https://www.publichealth.va.gov/infectiondontpassiton/womens-health-guide/stds/chlamydia.asp
  2. “Symptoms - Chlamydia.” National Health Service U.K.  https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/chlamydia/symptoms/
  3. "STDs and HIV - CDC Fact Sheet." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/std/hiv/stdfact-std-hiv-detailed.htm
  4. “Pelvic Inflammatory Disease.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/std/pid/stdfact-pid.htm
  5. “Chlamydia - CDC Fact Sheet.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/std/chlamydia/stdfact-chlamydia.htm
  6. “Reactive Arthritis.” American College of Rheumatology. https://www.rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Patient-Caregiver/Diseases-Conditions/Reactive-Arthritis

Medically Reviewed by on February 6, 2020


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