Chlamydia is often called a "tricky agent" or a "silent disease". Infected people don't even know about it, because typically the bacteria spreads in the body without any signs. That's why it's not easy to tell if you are infected. If symptoms do occur, it's usually one to three weeks after you have been infected. Sometimes it could even take months and by this time you may have inadvertently infected many others.
However, for both men and women the symptoms can disappear after a few days. Even after they are gone, you may still have the infection and you are able to pass it on. It is one of the reasons why it is vital to stay protected during sex and get tested every time you have a new partner. To make sure that you are healthy, you can order a discreet, easy-to-use chlamydia self-collection test kit. Results take up to 24 hours. If you are infected, it can usually be treated with just a single dose of antibiotics.
Around half of all the men with chlamydia don't notice any symptoms. A chlamydia infection is particularly hard to identify and hard to stop from spreading. As it is passed on through unprotected sex, most of the symptoms affect the genitals and surrounding area. The most common chlamydia symptoms include:
- discomfort, inflammation and pain in and around the testicles,
- pain and 'burning sensation' when urinating,
- pain in the rectum (back passage) - unprotected anal sex can spread the infection into the rectum and this can cause discomfort, pain, bleeding or discharge in that area.
However, it is not just the genitals that show signs of infection.The following chlamydia symptoms can also occur:
- rectal pain, discharge and bleeding,
- conjunctivitis (red, itchy eyes, pain, irritation, swelling and discharge from the eye),
- throat infection (if you have a sore throat, you might dismiss it as a cold when in fact this could be the result of this STD).
Remember! Even if you use a condom during penetration, be aware that any infected semen or vaginal fluid that comes into contact with the eyes or the throat could pass it on.
Around 75% of women will not show any signs of being infected even though they suffer the most serious consequences. The most common symptoms and signs of chlamydia in women include:
- bleeding during or after intercourse,
- a change in vaginal discharge,
- bleeding between periods,
- pain or a burning sensation while urinating,
- heavier periods than usual (including those using hormonal contraception such as birth control pills),
- pain in the pelvis,
- lower stomach pain,
- red, itchy eyes.
Women who have unprotected sex with an infected man may suffer complications during the gestation period. If the infection travels to the womb, it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease and may result in a higher risk of ectopic pregnancy. Some studies have linked chlamydia to the risk of miscarriage although this has been disputed. Women can also pass on chlamydia to their baby during delivery. An infected newborn can suffer from serious eye or lung infections.
Chlamydia can cause infertility by infecting the cervix and urethra and thus permanently damaging a woman's reproductive organs. It can also render men infertile as the infection can lead to scarring in the reproductive tract and can damage sperm quality.
Left untreated, chlamydia can cause wide-reaching damage to the body. Chlamydia can also lead to: permanent changes to the nervous system, a significant decrease in the body's immunity as well as allergies and asthma. In rare cases it can be associated with inflammation of the liver, spleen, gallbladder and pancreas.
Unfortunately, as chlamydia is largely symptomless, people can live with it for years. This is why, if you have any of the following symptoms, it's worth checking them out. In most cases a single dose of antibiotics can remove it from your system.
Lack of symptoms makes chlamydia particularly difficult to identify. Sometimes it is called the "silent epidemic" as it causes so much damage in so many people without showing any symptoms. That's why you should get tested if you had unprotected sex. It is more common with people under the age of 25, especially those with multiple partners.
Last updated September 25, 2018