11 Signs and Symptoms of Chlamydia in Women

Picture of a melon on a pink background
Written by

Content by

Last Updated

Last Updated

Buy Chlamydia Antibiotic Treatment Online From £8.49

Delievered the next day in plain and discreet packaging

What is chlamydia?

Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the UK. It is caused by the bacteria, chlamydia trachomatis. It affects both men and women and is most prevalent in 15- to 25-year-olds, especially women under the age of 25. It is spread through sexual interaction, including vaginal, anal, or oral sex with an infected person.

It can be difficult for a woman to know if she has chlamydia. It is reported that around 70% of women do not notice any symptoms. If women do have symptoms, the most frequently occurring ones are vaginal discharge and pain when urinating.

Regular testing for sexually active women is encouraged, to avoid further health complications as a result of untreated chlamydia. If you happen to be carrying the infection, it is unlikely to go away on its own without treatment. The only way to cure it is by taking a course of antibiotic treatment.

Untreated chlamydia in women can cause a variety of health complications. This can include infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), cervicitis (inflammation of the cervix), and pregnancy complications such as ectopic pregnancy. A woman with chlamydia also poses the risk of infecting sexual partners.

What are the symptoms of chlamydia in women?

Chlamydia symptoms in women are often unnoticeable. Only around 30% of female chlamydia patients notice any signs of chlamydia, as opposed to 50% of male patients. As it is often symptomless, chlamydia has been dubbed the 'silent infection’.

If chlamydia symptoms are present, they can include:

1. Vaginal discharge

This is the most common symptom of chlamydia in women. Normal discharge is usually clear or white. If you have chlamydia, you may notice a yellow or milky discharge. Normal discharge is usually odourless, however, chlamydia discharge can have quite a strong and unpleasant smell that is often likened to a fishy odour. You might also see an increase in vaginal discharge.

2. Rectal discharge

Anal chlamydia symptoms can include anal discharge and anorectal discomfort, although it is usually asymptomatic.

3. Pain when urinating

A burning sensation or pain when urinating, is a frequent symptom of chlamydia in women. This happens when chlamydia has infected the urethra (tube which carries urine out of the body).

4. Frequent urge to urinate

You may get the urge to pass urine more than usual if you’ve got chlamydia. Many women think this is due to a bladder infection, which will go away with time, and so it is often ignored.

5. Painful sex

If you have chlamydia, sex can go from being pleasurable to being very painful. This is because chlamydia can cause an inflammation and swelling in your cervix that is extra sensitive during penetrative sex. If chlamydia has caused pelvic inflammatory disease, it can also make sex feel painful.

6. Bleeding after sex

Women with chlamydia may experience bleeding after any type of sexual activity involving penetration.

7. Bleeding in between periods

Chlamydia in women may cause period-like symptoms of light to moderately heavy bleeding outside of their cycle. This is because chlamydia sometimes causes swelling and pressure inside the vagina which can lead to weakened blood vessels that can break easily. This bleeding is not usually painful. 

8. Lower stomach pain

Chlamydia pain is usually felt in a woman’s lower abdomen. It can be cramping, dull or sharp. It can be a cause for concern as lower stomach pain often occurs if the infection has been left untreated for a while and you have developed PID.

9. Eye inflammation

Your eyes can be contaminated with chlamydia when you rub them with an infected hand. Chlamydia in the eye is known as chlamydia conjunctivitis. It can initially cause minor redness and irritation. However, it can progress to liquid discharge and sensitivity to light.

10. Sore throat

Unprotected oral sex with an infected partner can cause a chlamydia throat infection. Symptoms include sore throat, white spots towards the back of the throat, and sores around the mouth.

11. Pain in the mouth

You may get pain in your mouth as well as a sore throat if you have oral chlamydia. However, often people with oral chlamydia have no symptoms.

If you notice any of these symptoms, your partner has symptoms, or your partner has been diagnosed with chlamydia, you should arrange to have a chlamydia test as soon as possible.

Is discharge in women a sign of chlamydia?

All women have discharge. So, discharge alone is not a sign of chlamydia. However, if discharge is thick, milky, or white in colour, it could be a sign of chlamydia. Chlamydia discharge usually as a fishy or strong odour.

When do symptoms start?

Symptoms do not always appear with chlamydia. If you do get symptoms, these usually start to show between 1 and 3 weeks after you had unprotected sex with an infected partner. For some people, chlamydia symptoms don't develop until many months later. Other people may only notice symptoms if the infection spreads to other areas of their body.

How long do they last?

If you have noticed chlamydia symptoms, you should get tested and treated as soon as possible.

Once chlamydia treatment has begun, you should start to notice an improvement in your symptoms within a few days. Generally, most symptoms should go completely within 2 to 4 weeks.

If symptoms continue to get worse or do not show signs of improvement after 1 week, visit your local sexual health clinic for advice.

Can you diagnose chlamydia in women from pictures?

No. Chlamydia often has no symptoms so a picture would not help to diagnose an asymptomatic chlamydia patient. Even if symptoms are present, they are not exclusive to chlamydia, which shares similar symptoms to other STIs and bacterial infections.

So how can women test for chlamydia?

Women can test for chlamydia by doing a urine or swab test. These tests are simple, pain free and usually reliable, with results available within 7 to 10 days.

A chlamydia test involves taking a sample of cells using a swab, or by urinating into a container and sending sampled to a laboratory for analysis. Chlamydia testing in women is the same as testing in men. Often, a urine sample is preferred method. 

All women (and men) can get free tests for chlamydia from their GP or local sexual health clinic. Self-test kits for chlamydia are also available from pharmacies online and on the high street. Chemist Click offer discreet home-testing kits for chlamydia. You provide a urine sample and send it to our partner NHS accredited laboratory, using the prepaid envelope provided. Your confidential results take 2 to 3 days.

How to treat chlamydia symptoms in women

Chlamydia will not clear up on its own. You will need to treat it with antibiotics. There are two types of chlamydia treatments, azithromycin and doxycycline. These are chlamydia tablets or pills that you swallow whole with water.

Doxycycline is the recommended chlamydia treatment as it is more effective. You take doxycycline twice a day for 7 days.

Azithromycin is usually prescribed if you can’t take doxycycline. It’s taken for 3 days. You take two 500mg tablets on the first day and one 500mg tablet on the second and third day.

You should not have sex at any time whilst you are taking the treatment course and for a week after. This is because your body may take up to 7 days after treatment to respond to the antibiotics.

What happens if symptoms are left untreated in females?

If chlamydia isn't treated, it can spread to other areas and cause serious health conditions. In women, it can spread to the womb, ovaries, or fallopian tubes, and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID can cause difficulty in getting pregnant, long-term pelvic pain, and ectopic pregnancy, which is where a fertilised egg implants itself outside of the womb.

Pregnant women with untreated chlamydia are at risk of passing the infection on to their baby. The baby may develop an eye or lung infection as a result.

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.