6 Things to Know About Chlamydia

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Ashley Festa on June 29, 2020
  • Affectionate young couple in love dancing at home
    Chlamydia Information and Facts
    Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted infection, affecting both men and women. About 1.5 million cases are reported each year, but the number of actual infections is thought to be much higher since not everyone shows symptoms. Chlamydia is curable with prompt treatment, and it’s important to treat the bacterial infection because it can have serious complications. Get more chlamydia information, including who’s most at risk for chlamydia, symptoms in men vs. women, and how it’s treated.
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    1. Sexually active women under age 25 have the highest risk of chlamydia.
    Teens and young adults, especially women, have a high risk of becoming infected with chlamydia, but anyone can get the disease. People who have a new sex partner or multiple sex partners also have increased risk. Not using a latex condom during sex raises the risk of infection for both partners. Men who have sex with men are also at a greater risk.
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    2. Chlamydia symptoms are different for men and women.
    About half of women with chlamydia have no symptoms at all. When women do have symptoms, they can include vaginal itching, burning, or foul-smelling discharge. A woman may also have pain during menstruation or bleeding between periods. Chlamydia symptoms in men can include discharge from the penis and testicular pain or swelling. Both men and women may experience pain while urinating and rectal discharge or bleeding. Even if a person does not have symptoms, he or she can still pass the infection to a partner during unprotected sex.
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    3. Untreated chlamydia can cause some serious complications.
    Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that can damage the reproductive system of both men and women. Women are at risk for pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can cause difficulty getting pregnant or even sterility. Chlamydia also increases the chance of ectopic (tubal) pregnancy, which can be fatal for both the woman and fetus. Men can have scars in the urethra or inflammation of the prostate or testicles. Anyone with chlamydia also is at higher risk for reactive arthritis and HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
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    4. An infected woman can pass chlamydia to her newborn during childbirth.
    Chlamydia increases the risk of the baby being born too early (before 37 weeks gestation). A baby with chlamydia has a higher chance of serious eye infections and pneumonia. Complications from these conditions can lead to blindness or death. If you are pregnant, get tested for chlamydia. If you test positive, be sure to get prompt treatment.
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    5. Antibiotics can cure chlamydia.
    The chlamydia infection should be cured in about a week with antibiotics, but be sure to take all the medicine—even if your symptoms clear up sooner. Your partner should also get tested and treated for chlamydia. Don’t have sex again until you finish all your medicine and your infection is completely cured. If you test positive, tell all your sex partners from the past three months so they can also get tested. You can still get the infection again later, so it’s important to get retested in three to four months after treatment.
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    6. You can take steps to prevent a chlamydia infection.
    Taking precautions to prevent chlamydia is important because although there is a chlamydia cure, many STIs, including chlamydia, have become resistant to antibiotics, making it more difficult to treat. The only way to ensure you don’t get chlamydia is to not have any type of sexual intercourse, including vaginal, anal and oral sex. (Chlamydia in the throat is uncommon but possible.) If you are sexually active, it’s safest to have sex within a mutually monogamous relationship with someone who doesn’t have chlamydia. To protect yourself with other partners, use a latex condom every time, and be sure to use it correctly. It’s also important to get tested regularly if you have risk factors for chlamydia, since many people don’t have symptoms.
6 Things to Know About Chlamydia | Chlamydia Information

About The Author

Ashley Festa is a Greenville, S.C.-based freelance writer and editor who has been writing professionally for nearly two decades. In addition to Healthgrades, she also has written for Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, the University of Texas at Arlington School of Nursing and Health Innovation, and Fit Pregnancy magazine.
  1. Chlamydia - CDC Fact Sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/std/chlamydia/stdfact-chlamydia.htm
  2. Chlamydia Infections. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine. https://medlineplus.gov/chlamydiainfections.html
  3. Chlamydia trachomatis. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chlamydia/symptoms-causes/syc-20355349
  4. Chlamydia. American Sexual Health Association. http://www.ashasexualhealth.org/stdsstis/chlamydia/
  5. Chlamydia. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/4023-chlamydia
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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Jun 22
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.