What are the Symptoms of Chlamydia?

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Chlamydia is the one of the most common Sexually Transmitted Infections in the world. Most people who have chlamydia will not experience symptoms, which is why it is so easily spread. In fact, only 30% of women and 50% of men who have chlamydia will experience symptoms. Chlamydia is a bacterial infection which is spread via sex, or by coming into contact with infected genital fluids. Chlamydia mainly affects the genitals, but can also infect the anus, eyes and throat.


What are the symptoms of chlamydia in women?

Female chlamydia symptoms include:

  • Painful urination
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Pain in the lower stomach or pelvis
  • Pain when having sex
  • Bleeding after sex
  • Bleeding between periods

If you experience any of these symptoms and are sexually active, it is important to have a chlamydia test to rule out any other conditions with similar symptoms, such as other STIs, urinary tract infections, thrust and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID can also be caused be caused by untreated chlamydia and can cause serious and long-term health complications, such as ectopic pregnancy and infertility.


What are the symptoms of chlamydia in men?

Male chlamydia symptoms include:

  • Painful urination
  • Discharge from the tip of the penis that is cloudy and white
  • Itching or burning around the urethra (the tube which carries urine out of the body)
  • Pain around the testicles

If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should test for chlamydia to rule out any other conditions and so that you can start treatment as soon as possible. Untreated chlamydia can cause swelling around the testicular area, which can affect your fertility.


Chlamydia often has no symptoms

Around 70% of females and 50% of males will not experience any symptoms. Most people do not realise they have the infection, which is why it is so easily spread. Chlamydia is most common in those under the age of 25 who are sexually active. If you contract chlamydia from your partner, this does not necessarily mean that they have cheated. They may have been unknowingly carrying the infection. Testing regularly, especially before entering a new relationship, can help to ensure that you have not got the infection, which means you are less likely to transmit it.


How long does it take for chlamydia symptoms to show up?

If you do develop symptoms, these will usually appear around 1 to 3 weeks after contracting the infection. Some people do not develop symptoms until several months later.

Symptoms may disappear after a few days. If chlamydia symptoms disappear, this does not mean the infection has gone away. You should avoid sexual activity until you have taken a chlamydia test. It may be a good idea to inform any recent sexual partners that you are experiencing symptoms, so that they can test too. It is advisable to test before entering a new relationship, in order to reduce the likelihood of transmitting STIs.


How to test for chlamydia

You can test for chlamydia by visiting a sexual health clinic. You will be requested to provide a urine sample, which is sent to a lab for analysis. Results are usually sent to you after 2 days. If you are unable to do visit a clinic, you can purchase a chlamydia test kit online, which will involve providing a urine sample and posting it directly to a lab for testing. You will be made aware of the results, 2-3 days after sending your sample off.


How to treat chlamydia

It is very unlikely that chlamydia will go away on its own without treatment. You can get rid of chlamydia by taking a short course of antibiotics. Treatment is usually started once the infection has been confirmed by a test, or if a sexual partner has informed you that they have tested positive. It is important to be certain that you require treatment, as taking antibiotics without a need can increase the chances of you becoming resistant to treatment. This means that antibiotics may not work for you in the future and this can cause complications. The best treatment for chlamydia is doxycycline. The recommended dose is one tablet to be taken twice daily for seven days. If doxycycline cannot be taken, for example, if you are allergic, pregnant, or taking medication that interacts with doxycycline, the second choice of antibiotics is azithromycin. Azithromycin is not as effective as doxycycline and should only be taken in circumstances where doxycycline cannot be taken. In order to receive treatment, you will need to have a consultation with a doctor, as chlamydia tablets are not available over the counter. It is important to complete the course of treatment, even if you feel better after a few days. You should refrain from sexual activity for 7 days after completing the course, as there may be residual bacteria that can be infectious. To ensure that treatment has been successful, you should test two weeks after completing the course of chlamydia treatment.

Whilst all of our content is written and reviewed by healthcare professionals, it is not intended to be substituted for or used as medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, please speak to your doctor.