Common Signs and Symptoms of Chlamydia

What are the most common signs and symptoms of chlamydia?

70-80% of chlamydia infections are asymptomatic. Symptoms of a genital chlamydia infection may include:

  • Burning sensation during urination
  • Frequent urination
  • White, cloudy or watery discharge from the penis
  • Testicular pain, tenderness and swelling
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge (may have an odor)
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Painful periods or bleeding between periods
  • Fever
  • Abdominal or pelvic pain
  • Itching or burning around the vagina

A rectal chlamydia infection will cause the same symptoms in men as in women. These include:

  • Anal itching, burning or soreness
  • Anal discharge (yellow or grayish)
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Rectal pain due to inflammation
  • Diarrhea (like a stomach bug)

An oral infection is the least likely to cause symptoms and when it does they are similar to a common cold. Oral chlamydia symptoms may include:

  • Sore throat
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Low grade fever (rare)

Chlamydia can also cause conjunctivitis in the eyes if infected genital secretions come into contact with your hand and then your eyes. Chlamydia is known to be the cause of 20% of acute conjunctivitis cases. Symptoms are the same as normal conjunctivitis but persist for weeks or months and resist normal antibiotic treatment.

What is chlamydia?

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis. It is the second most common STI in the United States and causes genital, anal and oral infections.

Who is at risk of a chlamydia infection?

Any sexually active person is at risk of a chlamydia infection but young women ages 15-24 are the highest risk group.

How is chlamydia transmitted?

Chlamydia can only be transmitted via sexual contact, including oral and anal sex. An infection in one site on the body can be transferred to a different site (oral infection transferred to a partners genitals through oral sex, etc.).

What is the incubation period of chlamydia?

The incubation period for chlamydia varies from person to person. On average, symptoms of chlamydia will appear within one to three weeks of initial exposure to the bacteria. It can take several months for symptoms to appear. If you know you have been exposed to chlamydia, take your first test after seven days.

What are the long-term consequences of an untreated infection?

An untreated chlamydia infection can result in infertility for men and women. In women, the infection damages the fallopian tubes, resulting in ectopic pregnancy, chronic pelvic or abdominal pain, infertility and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

What is the impact of chlamydia on pregnancy and expectant mothers?

Chlamydia is known to cause early delivery. It can also give the child conjunctivitis and pneumonia. The best way to prevent this is to test and treat during pregnancy so that the mother is not infected when the child is born. Read more about STDs and pregnancy here.

How can I prevent a chlamydia infection?

Condom or dental dam use during any type of sex will significantly reduce the likelihood of infection. A new condom should be used for each different sex act and each different partner.

Who should test for chlamydia?

Every sexually active person should test for chlamydia regularly. We recommend testing every 6-12 months or after each new partner.

How is a chlamydia test administered?

Chlamydia tests can be conducted with a urine sample from men or a vaginal swab from women.

How is chlamydia treated?

Chlamydia is treated with a seven-day course of prescription antibiotics. You should abstain from sex until you have taken all of the antibiotics.

Is a chlamydia reinfection possible?

Reinfection with chlamydia is possible and highly likely. The CDC recommends retesting 3 months after a positive diagnosis even if your partner has been tested and treated.

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