7 Signs & Symptoms of Chlamydia in Men

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Chlamydia is one of the most common STIs in the UK. It is a bacterial infection passed on through sexual contact with an infected person. This includes anal, oral, and vaginal sex.  

Whilst both men and women can get chlamydia, it can affect each gender in different ways. In men, the more common symptoms include discharge from the penis, pain when urinating, and swollen testicles. However, around half of all men who have chlamydia won’t get symptoms, and it often goes undetected until a chlamydia test is performed.

For this reason, the NHS recommends that if you are a sexually active male under the age of 25, you should test for chlamydia once a year. This is particularly important for those that have unprotected casual sex on a regular basis.

Chlamydia treatment is straight forward and has a high success rate. Most people take it without any problems.

Untreated chlamydia in men can cause swelling of the testicles and tubes that carry sperm. This could cause epididymitis and infertility in the long term.

In this article, you can learn about the symptoms of chlamydia in men, treatments, and possible risks it is left untreated. You can also find out how you can avoid this common STI.


Signs and symptoms of chlamydia in men

Chlamydia doesn’t cause symptoms in many people, which is why it’s so easily spread. At least 50% of men with the infection show no symptoms. This means they don’t know they’ve got it, and continue to engage in unprotected sexual activity, without seeking treatment.

For those men who do have symptoms, they can include:

1. Discharge from the penis

If discharge from the penis is white, cloudy, or watery, then you could be presenting a symptom of chlamydia.

2. Pain when urinating

If you feel unexplained pain when urinating, it could be a sign of chlamydia. Your urethra or prostate gland may be infected with the bacteria that causes chlamydia, known as chlamydia trachomatis.

3. Itching, stinging, or burning of the penis

Another common symptom of chlamydia is a burning or stinging sensation when you urinate. This is caused by an infection of the urethra (the tube that carries urine out of the body). The stinging or burning feeling can range from mild, to almost unbearable. You may also have an itchy feeling near the opening of the penis, and the tip can hurt when you touch it.

4. Rectal pain, discharge, or bleeding

Chlamydia affecting the rectum can cause unexplained pain, light bleeding, an itchy anus, or unusual discharge and swelling in and around the anus. Chlamydia can be passed on if you engage in unprotected anal sex.

5. Eye inflammation

Chlamydia in the eye, also known as chlamydia conjunctivitis, is when the chlamydia trachomatis infection is present in the eye. It can cause the eye to become red and irritated (pink eye) and can also cause discharge, and sensitivity to light.

6. Sore throat

A pain in your mouth or a sore throat can be a sign of oral chlamydia, which is a possibility after unprotected oral sex. Oral chlamydia often has no symptoms, or symptoms which are similar in nature to that of a sore throat.

7. Painful testicles

Men with chlamydia may develop pain and swelling in their testicles as the bacteria makes its way to the testicles or scrotum. This area may also feel enlarged, full, heavy, warm to touch and tender.

If you notice you or your partner have any of these symptoms, or if your partner has been diagnosed with chlamydia, you should get a chlamydia test right away.


Is discharge in men a sign of chlamydia?

Pre-ejaculate and ejaculate are considered to be normal discharge for males. Pre-ejaculate is a clear fluid that is secreted from the tip of the penis during sexual arousal to help prepare for sex. Ejaculate is white, cloudy and contains sperm. It comes out of the penis when you orgasm.

However, if you have a white, cloudy and or watery discharge from the tip of the penis at times when you are not sexually aroused, then you could have chlamydia. This type of discharge is one of the most common chlamydia symptoms in males. Discharge can also appear yellow in colour, and can have a foul smell.


How can men get chlamydia?

Men can get chlamydia by having penetrative sex, anal sex, or from giving and receiving oral sex, with someone who has chlamydia.


How can men test for chlamydia?

Men can test for chlamydia by doing a urine or swab test. The most common chlamydia test for men is a urine test, which involves urinating in a sample tube. This sample is then sent to a laboratory for analysis. Test results are usually reliable and should be available within 2 to 3 days. This is the most accurate test.

Men and women can get free chlamydia test from a local sexual health service. If you prefer, you can order a self-test kit for chlamydia from online pharmacies or buy them from high street chemists. Chemist Click offer discreet home-testing chlamydia kits that require a urine sample. Simply send the sample to our partner NHS accredited laboratory using the prepaid envelope provided, and you will receive your results in 2 to 3 days, by your preferred method of communication.


Are the signs of chlamydia detectable from pictures?

No, the signs of chlamydia are not detectable from a picture. Healthcare professionals are not able to diagnose chlamydia by looking at pictures. Chlamydia is diagnosed using a chlamydia test.


Chlamydia treatment for men

Chlamydia is a curable sexually transmitted infection (unlike herpes, which cannot be treated). Treatment involves a short course of antibiotics.

Chlamydia treatment for men and women are the same. There are two types of chlamydia tablets - doxycycline, and azithromycin.

Doxycycline is the first line treatment, as it is a more effective treatment for chlamydia. You take doxycycline twice a day for seven days. A test of cure is not usually required, due to the effectiveness of this antibiotic. It generally has positive reviews.

If you can’t take doxycycline, you’ll usually be prescribed azithromycin for 3 days. On day 1 you take two 500mg tablets and on day 2 and 3 you take one 500mg tablet. Although the course is shorter, azithromycin is not as effective as doxycycline, and is usually reserved for those that cannot take doxycycline.

Both are available in tablet or pill form and can be swallowed whole with water.

You should refrain from sexual activity during treatment, and for 7 days after having completed treatment. This is because there may be remnants of the infection that are still present after the treatment course has been complete. The antibiotics will still be working to get rid of the infection during these 7 days after treatment.


Can chlamydia make men infertile?

Yes, untreated chlamydia may make men infertile in rare cases.

Chlamydia can spread to a man’s testicles and the tubes which carry sperm from the testicles, called epididymis. Both the testicles and epididymis can become painful and swollen. This is a condition known as epididymitis or epididymo-orchitis. It is very rare. Chlamydia infections in testicular tissue may affect a man’s fertility, due to a lower sperm count and lower quality sperm. Antibiotics can treat the infection effectively.


What are the other risks of untreated chlamydia in men?

Untreated chlamydia in men can also cause sexually acquired reactive arthritis (SARA). This can lead to inflamed joints, eyes, or urethra (the tube that passes urine out of the body) causing pain when urinating. SARA is more common in men than women. There is no cure for SARA; however, most people get better within a few months. The symptoms of SARA can be treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen.

Men (and women) with chlamydia have an increased risk of getting other infections including gonorrhea or HIV.


How to avoid catching chlamydia

Anyone who has unprotected sex is at risk of contracting chlamydia. As many people with chlamydia don’t notice symptoms, you may not always know if a current or potential sexual partner is carrying the infection. It is therefore recommended to practice safe sex using barrier contraceptive methods, and test regularly. If you have a new sexual partner or do not use barrier contraception, such as a condom, when having sex, you are at a higher risk of catching chlamydia.

To try to avoid catching chlamydia you should:

  • use a condom every time you have vaginal and anal
  • use a condom to cover the penis during oral sex
  • use a dam (a thin piece of soft plastic or latex) to cover the female genitals during oral sex or when female genitals rub together
  • not share sex toys. If you do share sex toys, wash them after each use or cover them with a new condom each time they are used.

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.