Chlamydia Symptoms

Discovering you may have chlamydia symptoms can be a rude awakening for just about anyone. It can be uncomfortable and, if left untreated, dangerous – but don’t freak out just yet. While chlamydia should be taken seriously, it’s bark is often much worse than its bite. With quick and easy treatment, you can get back to a happy and healthy life in no time flat.

Learn more about chlamydia symptoms below and what actions you can take to treat them.

What is Chlamydia?

Chlamydia is a common, sexually transmitted disease (STD): an infection that affects both men and women. While the symptoms of this STD can be painful for both sexes, chlamydia can be particularly serious for women, due to irreparable damages it can cause to the female reproductive system. If left untreated, chlamydia can cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) which can lead to infertility and increase risk of ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside of the womb).

How is Chlamydia Prevented?

Chlamydia is spread through any type of sexual activity involving two or more people; this includes vaginal, anal, and oral sex. This is because Chlamydia trachomatis, the bacterium that causes chlamydia, is transmitted through sexual fluids. This includes semen (cum), pre-ejaculate (pre-cum), and vaginal fluids. If your partner is male, you can still catch chlamydia even if your partner does not ejaculate. That is why safe sex methods such as condoms and dental dams are recommended to prevent infection.

If you have had chlamydia before, you are still at risk of contracting it again. If you are aware that your partner has chlamydia, avoid sexual contact with your partner until they are finished with their prescribed antibiotics (7 – 14 days).

What Do Chlamydia Symptoms Look Like?

Chlamydia can cause a variety of symptoms in both men and women, many of them uncomfortable. A lot of people will not seek STD testing until they begin to develop some of these painful symptoms, many of which can be quite alarming. The problem with waiting for chlamydia symptoms to develop is that often times they don’t. One of the greatest challenges with chlamydia is that those who have it can be asymptomatic for a significant period of time, all while it does harm to their reproductive system and continues to spread to their sexual partners. This is is why it is so important to get tested on a regular basis: sometimes you can become aware of infections that may have otherwise been hiding in your body.

Because chlamydia symptoms can appear differently in men and women, below are the symptoms as they present themselves in each sex.

Chlamydia Symptoms in Women

Most Common

  • No symptoms

Less Common

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Painful urination
  • Pain, discharge, or bleeding from rectum
  • Eye inflammation

Least Common

  • Bleeding between menstrual cycles
  • Pain during sex
  • Pain in pelvis or lower stomach
  • Pain in lower back
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Sore throat

Chlamydia Symptoms in Men

Most Common

  • No symptoms

Less Common

  • Abnormal penile discharge (thick, yellow-white, milky or watery)
  • Painful urination
  • Pain, discharge, or bleeding from rectum
  • Eye inflammation

Least Common

  • Burning or itching around the tip of the penis
  • Testicular pain and swelling
  • Sore throat

If you have started to develop any of the chlamydia symptoms above, remain calm and seek medical attention with urgency. There are many harmful complications that can come from leaving chlamydia untreated, and yet it is also one the most easily treated STDs. Of course, it can be daunting to get tested for chlamydia when there is a social stigma associated with an STD, but try not to be too embarassed as chlamydia is actually very common. It is so common that, in 2014, the Center for Disease Control reported 1.4 million cases of chlamydia in the United States. This is because most carriers are asymptomatic, leaving many people to continue normal sexual activity while infected.

So while it can be embarrassing to talk about sexually transmitted diseases, it is much better to get tested and treated than to put your health, and the health of your partners, at risk.

What Can I Expect When I Get Tested for Chlamydia?

One of the most daunting parts of getting tested is not knowing what to expect. Thankfully, when it comes to getting tested for STDs, you have nothing to fear. Getting tested for this particular STD involves a simple urine test, which looks for the presence of bacteria.

When you are tested, your doctor may suggest you also get tested for gonorrhea at the same time. While not everyone with chlamydia symptoms test positive for gonorrhea as well, it is not uncommon for this to be true. As a result, it can be easier to complete both tests at once, as to receive the best possible care.

Your doctor may choose to treat you with antibiotics before you even get your results back, as a precautionary measure. Because even if you don’t have chlamydia, you could still have another type of infection that will require treatment – such as a UTI. Be sure to take your entire course of antibiotics, regardless of your STD test results. If your doctor prescribed you medication, it is because they felt it was necessary for your health.

What Can I Expect From Chlamydia Treatment?

While it can be scary to find out you have an STD, chlamydia is one of the most easily treated STDs – so long as you do not wait, leaving you at risk for more serious complications.

Treatment involves taking an oral antibiotic, prescribed by your doctor. Frequently doctors will prescribe either azithromycin or doxycycline, which can help to alleviate your chlamydia symptoms as quickly as a 2 – 3 days.

Remember: just because you feel better does not mean you should stop taking your medication. Ending your antibiotic course earlier than your doctor recommends could result in a relapse and may aid in the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. If you have any concerns about your medication, consult with your doctor before you end treatment.

While you are being treated, it is recommended that you avoid sexual contact for at least 7 days after treatment for your chlamydia symptoms. This is true whether you got a single dose of antibiotics or a dose that you take daily for 7 – 10 days. For the safety of your partner, and to avoid getting re-infected, you should wait to have sex until you can be completely certain that the bacteria is out of your system.

If you have had sexual contact with another person, or persons, while you talk to your partner(s). It may be necessary for them to get tested and treated, as well, especially since they may not develop the same symptoms – if they show any symptoms at all.

While it can be difficult to tell your sexual partner that you have an STD, they will much prefer your honesty to being left untreated and unwarned of a possible infection.

How Will Chlamydia Affect My Pregnancy?

When you’re expecting a baby, you’re likely already nervous about your pregnancy; the possibility of an STD can only add to that stress and anxiety. If you’re showing chlamydia symptoms, you will want to get tested as soon as possible. Chlamydia can cause eye infections and pneumonia in your newborn, as well as increase your chances for an early birth. This can be prevented with testing and treatment.

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