The STI chlamydia is part of the group of symptomless sexually transmitted infections (STI) and diseases (STD), which include gonorrhoea and trichomoniasis. This means that many men or women who have caught the infection are unaware that they have done so, as the signs and symptoms of chlamydia do not appear right away, if at all.
What is chlamydia?
Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that is transmitted through unprotected oral, anal and vaginal sex.
How will I know if I have chlamydia?
Chlamydia is part of the groups of STIs that are symptomless; many people do not have symptoms and therefore do not know that they have the infection. If symptoms do appear these can include, pain hen urinating, abnormal discharge and bleeding between periods.
How long does it take to shows signs of chlamydia?
Signs that you are infected may become noticeable one to three weeks after the initial infection or many months later. In some cases the infection is only recognised as chlamydia when it spreads to other parts of the body, including the eyes. Chlamydia is one of the most common STIs, and the lack of symptoms is why it is so important to get regularly tested, as well as practise safe sex (sex with a condom). Read on to find out more about the signs of chlamydia in men and women.
Signs of chlamydia in women:
Did you know that at least 70% of women with chlamydia do not notice any symptoms?* However if you do then these are the most common things to look out for:
- Unusual vaginal discharge
- Pain or burning when urinating
- Pain in the lower abdomen
- Bleeding between periods or heavier periods
- Pain and/or bleeding during
- Pain and/or bleeding after sex
Due to the nature of chlamydia symptoms, it is easy to overlook these changes and confuse the infection for a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection) or simply changes in your menstrual cycle. That’s why it’s vital that you understand and know your own body, so that you can spot when things are abnormal or have changed as soon as possible. Whether this is the appearance of your vaginal discharge throughout your menstrual cycle or how heavy your periods normally are, for example. Once you know what these things are usually like it is easier to spot changes as soon as they appear.
Chlamydia in women can lead to serious complications which can affect your fertility and chances of having a baby. The infection can spread to the ovaries, womb and fallopian tubes which can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID can lead to:
- Fertility issues making it harder to get pregnant
- Constant and chronic pelvic pain
- A greater risk of ectopic pregnancies
However the risk of PID is greatly lessoned with successful chlamydia treatment as well as preventative methods such as using a condom when giving or receiving oral, anal and vaginal sex.
Signs of chlamydia in men:
- White, cloudy or watery discharge from the penis
- Pain or burning when urinating
- Burning or itching in the urethra (the tube that passes urine)
- Pain in the testicles
In men, the infection can spread to the testicles and epididymis (tubes that transport the sperm from the testicles), causing them to become swollen and painful. If this inflammation is not treated with antibiotics it can lead to fertility issues in the future. The symptoms of chlamydia can also mimic that of a UTI, with a burning sensation when you urinate, discharge and pain, which is why many people do not seek the correct medial help they need and so pass it to their sexual partners.
Both men and women can experience pain and discomfort in the rectum, as well as pain, swelling and irritation in the eyes if the infection has spread to these areas.
It is important to get tested as soon as possible if you believe that you have been exposed to chlamydia, through unprotected sexual activity (oral, anal and vaginal sex without a condom). The sooner that this STI is treated the less chance there is that complications will arise.
How is chlamydia treated?
A course of antibiotics will be given to you to fight the infection you will need to take these for a week or 10 days.