What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Chlamydia in Men and Women?


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Most people infected with the chlamydia virus tend to never show any symptoms of the disease. This is why doctors and health officials often note it as being the silent sexually transmitted disease. And, for those people who do show symptoms, they often appear up to three weeks after the initial infection.

Now, there are many common symptoms of chlamydia (similar to other STDs out there) but there are also some not-so-common and rare symptoms of the disease. What should you be mindful of if you’re concerned about a chlamydia infection?

Common Chlamydia Symptoms

  • Vaginal or penile discharge (usually watery, yellow or pus-like with a smell)
  • Anal discharge, bleeding and pain
  • Low-grade fever
  • Nausea
  • Pain during sex
  • Pain while peeing
  • Pain in the groin
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Itching
  • Lower back or stomach pain
  • Cramping
  • Skin irritation (usually on the penis)

Less Common Chlamydia Symptoms

  • Testicle tenderness and swelling
  • Vaginal swelling and tenderness
  • Blood in the urine

Rare Chlamydia Symptoms

  • Conjunctivitis – (occurs after touching an infected area then touching your hand)
  • Eye redness
  • Eye pain
  • Sore throat – (occurs when you have oral sex with an infected partner)
  • Cough
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (this can lead to scarring of reproductive organs)
  • Reiter’s Syndrome or reactive arthritis (occurs when the disease is not treated)
  • Non-gonococcal urethritis (often occurs when the disease is not treated)
  • Epididymitis (often occurs when the disease is not treated)

If you notice any of the above symptoms, it’s imperative to seek treatment right away to avoid complications that can arise from untreated chlamydia.

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Female Symptoms Of Chlamydia

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) believe one in 15 girls between the ages of 14 and 19 are infected with chlamydia. Their thinking seems reasonable as chlamydia is regarded as the silent sexually transmitted disease. After all, a woman could be asymptomatic, passing it onto others unknowingly.

Sexually active women are advised to be tested regularly for STDs including chlamydia. A chlamydia infection can also increase the chances of becoming infected with another STD like HIV.

Chlamydia Infection In Women

When a woman becomes infected with the STD, the bacteria enters the body through the cervix, anus or mouth. Her symptoms can range from mild to severe, although it can take up to three weeks after the initial infection for symptoms to show (if they even do). In fact, 75 percent of all women experience no symptoms of chlamydia. This means more serious health problems could arise due to the lack of immediate treatment.

Several tale-tell less and least common signs of a chlamydia infection:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Eye inflammation
  • Lower back pain
  • Nausea
  • Painful intercourse
  • Sore throat
  • Vaginal or rectal discharge (this could have a bad smell as well)

When these symptoms go untreated, they can lead to even more serious health problems such as PID or pelvic inflammatory disease. Women of child-bearing age with chlamydia could become infertile or have an ectopic pregnancy, as the infection spreads up the urethra, uterus and fallopian tubes.

When giving birth, a pregnant woman could unintentionally give her baby the disease.

Although chlamydia is one of the most reported STDs in the nation, it’s still considered the silent STD. Even if a woman shows no signs of the disease, a chlamydia infection raises her chances of being infected with another STD like HIV.

It’s imperative that sexually-active women get tested once to twice a year to rule out the possibility of having this common STD. Testing is done typically through the swabbing method. Most women don’t know they have it until they’re tested.

See more: Anonymous Chlamydia Symptom Checker

Male Symptoms Of Chlamydia

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 50 percent of men with chlamydia may experience no symptoms at all. Similar to women, men unaware they are infected could easily pass the disease onto their sexual partners via anal, vaginal or oral sex.

Chlamydia Infection In Men

Chlamydia symptoms often start as a yellow-white, thick, watery or milky discharge coming from the penis or painful urination burning. It’s not uncommon for men to experience swelling and pain in the testicles as well. Other less and least common symptoms include:

  • Eye inflammation (rare but occurs when a person touches their eye after touching an infected area)
  • Sore throat (occurs from oral sex)
  • Rectal pain, bleeding or discharge (occurs from anal sex)
  • Testicle swelling and pain
  • Burning and itching around penis opening
  • Fever
  • Low back pain

If a man fails to treat the STD illness, it could lead to two very serious conditions known as non-gonococcal urethritis (urethra infection) and epididymitis (epididymis infection). The epididymis is the tube that carries sperm from the testicles. Untreated epididymitis could lead to male infertility.

Men could also be diagnosed with reactive arthritis, which is the painful swelling of at least one joint. The condition, once known as Reiter’s Syndrome, is often associated with other symptoms that affect the eyes and urinary tract. Bear in mind that the condition could appear even with treatment.

Other untreated short-term and long-term conditions could also arise from untreated chlamydia.

It can take up to three weeks after the initial infection to test positive for a chlamydia infection. This is why men who are sexually active are encouraged to seek annual or bi-annual testing for the STD. Men must provide a urine sample to be tested, or if the infection is in the throat or rectum, a swab of the area will be conducted.

Mark Riegel, MD
Mark Riegel, MD
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