Signs of Chlamydia

Dr Kathryn Basford

Medically reviewed by

Dr Kathryn Basford

Last reviewed: 01 May 2019

How to spot the symptoms of chlamydia

young woman researching chlamydia symptoms on her phone in a cafe

Key takeaways

  • An estimated 50% of men and over 70% of women do not show any symptoms, so chlamydia often goes unnoticed

  • Typical symptoms of chlamydia include: itching or burning, discharge, pain when urinating, pain and/or bleeding when having sex, or pain in the lower abdomen for women and pain around the testicles for men

  • When chlamydia is diagnosed at an early stage, treatment is both swift and effective. However, if the infection is left untreated it can lead to complications including arthritis, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), and premature births

  • If you think you may have caught chlamydia, you can save time and order your chlamydia test online through us

Chlamydia symptoms vary and they are not always noticeable. With an estimated 50% of men and over 70% of women not showing any symptoms, chlamydia often goes unnoticed, which is why is passed on extremely quickly within the population.

If you are experiencing chlamydia symptoms or believe you may have contracted the infection, you should get tested. Some other sexually transmitted infections can cause the same symptoms as chlamydia, which is why testing is essential in order to diagnose chlamydia.

What are the symptoms of chlamydia?

In cases where symptoms of chlamydia become noticeable, they usually appear one to three weeks following the date of infection. However, the disease often remains symptomless and it can take months or years before patients notice any symptoms. Men and women who are infected with chlamydia are often unaware of the infection and pass it on to other partners. When chlamydia is left untreated for a long period of time, it can cause damage to the reproductive system.

Chlamydia can cause some different symptoms in men and women. But in both men and women, it can cause an infection in the rectum, eyes and throat. When it causes an infection in the rectum the symptoms can be discomfort and discharge.

If the chlamydia bacteria infect the eyes, it can cause irritation, pain and conjunctivitis. When chlamydia is transmitted during oral sex, it can cause a throat infection.

Symptoms in men

Typical symptoms of chlamydia include:

  • white/cloudy, gooey or watery discharge from the tip of the penis
  • skin Irritation at the tip of the penis
  • pain while urinating (burning sensation)
  • pain around the testicles

Some of these symptoms may disappear within days, which can cause men to assume that the problem was temporary and trivial. But the infection can still be present even if the symptoms get better. If you’ve noticed any of these chlamydia symptoms you must get tested, even if your symptoms have improved. For more in depth information, see our chlamydia symptoms in men guide.

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Symptoms in women

In women, the symptoms can include:

  • itching or burning in or around the vagina
  • abnormal vaginal discharge (secretion) that may have an unusual colour or smell
  • bleeding between periods and painful/heavy periods
  • pain and/or bleeding when having sex
  • lower abdominal pain

For more in depth information, see our chlamydia symptoms in women guide.

Testing For Chlamydia

The symptoms of chlamydia are quite non-specific and they can indicate a variety of infections. If you experience any of these symptoms, you need to visit your GP or GUM clinic to get tested. Or, you can save time and order your chlamydia test online from ZAVA and receive it within 48 hours.

If you're suffering from an eye infection which does not clear when using a standard conjunctivitis treatment, you should also consider getting tested for chlamydia.

Who can get chlamydia?

Anyone can catch chlamydia when having unprotected sex. There's no way of telling whether or not a new sexual partner has chlamydia. Young people are the most at risk of contracting chlamydia, with 88% of all new cases being diagnosed in the under-25s for women and 69% among men.

You have a higher risk of contracting chlamydia and subsequent complications if you:

  • have had multiple sexual partners in the last year (the higher the number of partners the greater the risk)
  • do not use condoms
  • have already contracted an STI

Early treatment is the key

When it’s diagnosed at an early stage, chlamydia can be treated quickly and effectively. But if the infection is left untreated, it can cause the following complications:

  • In women it can cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, which can lead to infertility
  • It can cause reactive arthritis (Reiter's Syndrome)
  • If you’re pregnant and have chlamydia it can cause a miscarriage or premature birth. There is also a risk of passing the infection to the newborn baby during delivery, which can cause a severe infection

If you're concerned that you may be infected, it is important that you don't just wait around, but get tested right away. If you feel embarrassed or if STIs are something you'd rather not discuss with your GP, you can get tested quickly and discreetly by ordering a chlamydia test kit from our website.

No symptoms of chlamydia?

If you know you're infected with chlamydia, there are two good reasons for getting treated immediately.

1) The infection can cause complications and spread to other parts of your body, starting with your reproductive system.

2) You can infect any sexual partners you have, and they might then unknowingly infect more people in the future.

Medically reviewed by:
Dr Kathryn Basford Accreditations: MB, ChB, MPH

Dr Kathryn Basford is a qualified GP who works as a GP in London, as well as with ZAVA. She graduated from the University of Manchester and completed her GP training through Whipps Cross Hospital in London.

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Last reviewed: 01 May 2019

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