Which Symptoms Does Chlamydia Cause?

Chlamydia Symptoms in Men and Women

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease. The infection is caused by bacteria called chlamydia trachomatis. Chlamydia is very easy to treat with antibiotics, but it can lead to severe complications, including infertility, if left untreated. The symptoms of chlamydia differ and they can be difficult to spot. The most common chlamydia symptom in both men and women is discharge. However, only around 30% of women experience chlamydia symptoms.

Chlamydia does not only spread during vaginal intercourse. It can also be passed on during anal and oral sex. Wearing a condom every time you have sex with a partner whose sexual health status is unclear is the best way to prevent infection.

How Can You Tell if You Have Chlamydia?

It is not possible to diagnose chlamydia purely based on symptoms. If you are encountering any unusual discharge, you need to get tested. The test will check whether you have chlamydia bacteria. For women, the test consists of a swab test and for men it is a urine test.

How Long Does Chlamydia Take to Show?

In cases where chlamydia causes symptoms, they usually become noticeable around 1 - 3 weeks after you have had sex with an infected person. However, it is possible for symptoms to develop months or even years after infection, especially if you develop complications such as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (in women) or epididymitis (in men). In many people, chlamydia never causes any symptoms.

Does Chlamydia Cause Sores?

Chlamydia does not usually cause sores. In most cases where sores are present, they are caused by a different condition or STI, such as genital herpes. If you have sores on your genitals, visit your local GUM clinic for diagnosis and advice.

How Long Can You Have Chlamydia For?

An untreated chlamydia infection can persist for several years. Although this goes for both men and women, it is believed that men are less likely to carry the bacteria for several years. If you remain infected for a long time you have an increased risk of complications. 

Can Chlamydia Symptoms Come Back After Treatment?

The treatment for chlamydia is an antibiotic called doxycycline. It is highly effective and usually clears the infection within one week of taking the tablets. If your symptoms return more than a week after treatment, you need to see a doctor. It is possible that you have been reinfected, especially if you had unprotected sex in the meantime. It is also possible that your symptoms are caused by a different infection. 

Preventing Symptoms

Chlamydia does not only spread during vaginal intercourse. It can also be passed on during anal and oral sex. Wearing a condom every time you have sex with a partner whose sexual health status is unclear is the best way to prevent infection.

Symptoms in Women

Chlamydia is a very common infection, partly because it is often symptomless. You or your sexual partner could have chlamydia and not know about it. It is estimated that one in twenty sexually active women in the UK have chlamydia. The infection is most common in young people aged 15-25.

Although chlamydia in women often has no symptoms, sometimes it does come with warning signs.

One of the most common symptoms of chlamydia in women is vaginal discharge, which indicates an infection of the uterine cervix. If you notice any unusual yellow or white discharge, you should do a sexual health test. Another common symptom of chlamydia is feeling a burning sensation or pain during urination. If it hurts when you pee, the cause could be an undetected chlamydia infection.

If a chlamydia infection goes unnoticed, it can spread and cause complications. Most commonly, it spreads from the cervix to the fallopian tubes, resulting in bleeding or pain during sex. Further possible symptoms include unusual bleeding and spotting, nausea and fever as well as abdominal and lower back pain.

Chlamydia and Infertility

Chlamydia in women is the most common preventable cause of infertility. Due to the symptomless nature of chlamydia, it can go unnoticed for a long time. If the infection spreads beyond the cervix, it usually travels to the urinary tract and the fallopian tubes. A chlamydia infection of the fallopian tubes can result in scarring and the blockage of the fallopian tubes, which can cause permanent infertility. This condition also increases the risk of an ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy is a dangerous condition, which occurs when a baby develops in the fallopian tubes instead of in the womb. 


Chlamydia is associated with pelvic inflammatory disease, also known as PID. Chlamydia increases the risk of PID, as do other sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhea. The symptoms of PID are very similar to the symptoms of chlamydia. They include abnormal bleeding, pain during intercourse, vaginal discharge, fever and lower back pain. In rare cases, patients with PID can develop an abscess in the fallopian tubes or ovaries.

Chlamydia can also cause cervicitis, an inflammation of the cervix or womb, which results in symptoms such as discharge, pain and an increased need to urinate. If cervicitis is left untreated, patients may develop cervical cysts and pelvic pain.

As an untreated chlamydia infection progresses, it can block the Bartholin’s glands, which lubricate the vagina during intercourse. Blockage is likely to result in inflammation and encourages the development of cysts and abscesses, which can be very painful.

Symptoms in Men

The chlamydia symptoms in men are not dissimilar to those experienced by women. There are a number of symptoms of chlamydia in men, including:

  • pain or burning during urination
  • tenderness or pain in the testicles
  • unusual itching around the opening of the penis
  • clear or coloured discharge from the urethra
  • a low grade fever

If chlamydia goes untreated it can lead to fertility problems in men. Other common complications include epididymitis, which causes inflammation of the epididymis, the tube which carries sperm from the testicle. This can result in very painful swelling of the testicles and can occur in one or both tubes. In some cases, chlamydia in men can also infect the rectum causing inflammation. This condition is known as proctitis and the inflammation is accompanied by a sticky discharge and pain.

Even if you do not have any symptoms, you might have chlamydia and if so you could pass it on to your partners.

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