Symptoms Of Chlamydia In Men

How To Tell If You Have Them

Man sat in a cafe holding a coffee cup checks for symptoms of chlamydia in men on his phone

Key takeaways

  • Chlamydia can be difficult to spot in men because the symptoms are rare and not consistent between men

  • More common symptoms include a discharge from the penis, pain during urination, and swollen testicles

  • If you think there's a chance you might have chlamydia, getting tested early on is important, and so is avoiding spreading it to others

  • If left untreated, chlamydia can cause internal scarring off your genitals, a lower sperm count with less fertile sperm, and can lead to additional health conditions

  • Chlamydia treatment normally involves antibiotic treatment which you can access through an online doctor service, or through a GP surgery or GUM clinic

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Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a tiny bacterium, chlamydia trachomatis.

It has been dubbed 'The Silent Infection' as it often causes no (or only very mild) observable symptoms.

Around 25 - 50% of all male chlamydia cases go completely unnoticed (see also chlamydia symptoms in women), which is why chlamydia is highly prevalent in the UK and around the world.

What Are Typical Chlamydia Symptoms In Men?

The symptoms of chlamydia in men can be difficult to spot. Symptoms may be infrequent and random, which sometimes leads patients to believe that they are not caused by an infection.

Chlamydia symptoms in men include:

  • White, cloudy or watery discharge from the tip of the penis;
  • Pain, discomfort or a 'burning sensation' when urinating;
  • Inflammation, tenderness and pain in and around the testicles.

These are likely to appear within 1 to 3 weeks of initial exposure. The male symptoms of chlamydia aren't limited to the genitals as chlamydia can also occur in the throat, eyes and rectum (depending on how it is transmitted).

The following chlamydia symptoms can also occur:

  • Rectal pain, discharge and bleeding
  • Conjunctivitis (eyes)
  • Throat infection

What Happens If A Man Doesn’t Treat His Chlamydia?

The negative impact of chlamydia and infertility in men is often underestimated. Chlamydia in men can damage sperm and cause scarring in the reproductive tract (which can lead to permanent infertility).

Men with chlamydia have 3 times the normal level of DNA fragmentation in sperm (which means that the genetic material is not packed tightly enough and the long strands become susceptible to breakage).

Mycoplasma (a sexually transmitted infection) and chlamydia in men affect sperm production. Infected men produce sperm with 80% more physical abnormalities and 10% less mobility compared to their non-infected peers.

In addition to this, male chlamydia patients are also more likely to experience rheumatological conditions, conjunctivitis, urethritis (inflammation of the urethra) and reactive arthritis. 

How Do You Test For Male Chlamydia?

Early testing and treatment of chlamydia is key. If you've recently had unprotected sex with a new partner, with someone you suspect may be infected or if you just haven't been tested for STIs in a while, you should get tested. You can do this at your local GP or GUM clinic, (you are entitled to a chlamydia test even if you aren't displaying any observable symptoms). Alternatively, you can order a chlamydia test kit from us and take your test at home and further chlamydia treatment if required. Because chlamydia is highly prevalent among 16 to 25 year olds, chlamydia tests are now offered at most youth clubs and universities too.

You will need to provide a urine sample; you may need to refrain from passing urine for about two hours leading up to the test to get an accurate result. If you have been engaging in oral or anal sex and are experiencing symptoms, you need to visit your GP for a swab of your rectrum or throat. Your sample will be sent to a laboratory for analysis and you will be contacted with the result within a few days. If you don't have much time or would prefer a home test you can order a chlamydia test kit from us and have it delivered to your UK address within 48 hours.

How Do You Treat Chlamydia In Men?

If you test positive, the chlamydia treatment you may be prescribed is a single dose of antibiotic (such as doxycycline) or an alternative one if you are allergic to the standard antibiotic. It is very important that you contact all previous partners and make them aware that they, too, may have contracted chlamydia. If you have been diagnosed with chlamydia, you can order your treatment online from our discreet service and have it delivered.

Why Is Azithromycin Not A Chlamydia Treatment Anymore?

The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV recently released guidelines explaining that Azithromycin is no longer an effective treatment for chlamydia. This is because of increasing levels of bacterial resistance to azithromycin. Instead, the recommended first-line treatment is now only doxycycline.

How To Prevent The Spread Of Chlamydia

To lower your risk of contracting or passing on chlamydia, it's highly important that you:

  • Always use condoms during sexual intercourse (including vaginal, anal and oral)
  • Cover any shared sex toys with condoms.
  • Have both yourself and your new sexual partner checked for STIs before engaging in unprotected sex

Can You Recognise Chlamydia From Pictures?

Can you tell you have chlamydia if you compare your visible symptoms with pictures? – no. Although it’s possible to use search engines to try to compare your visible symptoms with a picture you see in front of you,t in many cases, some of these images may be worse case scenarios or very graphic with the intention being to use them to prevent people from partaking in unprotected sex. Most people who have chlamydia do not have symptoms at all.

You may find images which have come from reputable sources but comparing an image with your symptoms is not a good way to diagnose chlamydia. Because of the way images are tagged on the net, some of the symptoms you’re seeing may also be symptoms of other conditions and so it is difficult to determine if you have chlamydia from images. 

Could a doctor tell you have chlamydia by looking at visible symptoms? – no. The only way to find out if you have chlamydia is to get tested. After a physical examination your GP may suspect you have chlamydia, but they won’t be able to confirm a diagnosis without proper testing.

Could the visible symptoms of chlamydia be mistaken for something else? – yes, but in many cases chlamydia is symptomless. Symptoms may not occur until 1-3 weeks after you have been infected. The symptoms can also be random and infrequent which can lead individuals to overlook that an infection may cause the symptoms. It could be that your visible symptoms are a result of a different health condition.

The symptoms of chlamydia can be the result of another cause – in other words you may not have chlamydia at all. The physical symptoms of chlamydia can also be the same as symptoms of other conditions similar urine infections. Plus, the only way to confirm you have chlamydia is to have the test.

Does Discharge from Your Penis Mean You Have Chlamydia?

Not necessarily – the presence of a white, cloudy or watery discharge from the end of your penis is a symptom of chlamydia in men. However, discharge can also be a sign of other issues such as:

  • a urinary tract infection (UTI) 
  • genital herpes
  • gonorrhoea
  • mycoplasma genitalium
  • ureaplasma

In cases of chlamydia other symptoms which may occur alongside penile discharge include:

  • Pain when you pee
  • Burning or itching in the tube that carries urine out of your body (urethra)
  • Painful testicles

If you have discharge it may be:

  • Watery
  • Cloudy
  • White
  • Yellow and pus like

No discharge doesn’t mean no chlamydia – it is important to remember that most cases of chlamydia are symptom-free, particularly in men. If you have had unprotected sex i.e. you didn’t use a condom there is every possibility you could have caught chlamydia. You should get tested even if you have no symptoms to be safe. If chlamydia is left untreated it can cause serious health complications, including those which could affect your fertility. 

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