Symptoms of Chlamydia


General information about symptoms of Chlamydia: The symptom information on this page attempts to provide a list of some possible symptoms of Chlamydia. This symptom information has been gathered from various sources, may not be fully accurate, and may not be the full list of symptoms of Chlamydia. Furthermore, symptoms of Chlamydia may vary on an individual basis for each patient. Only your doctor can provide adequate diagnosis of symptoms and whether they are indeed symptoms of Chlamydia.

List of symptoms of Chlamydia: The list of symptoms mentioned in various sources for Chlamydia includes:

Symptoms of Chlamydia: Chlamydia is known as a "silent" disease because three quarters of infected women and half of infected men have no symptoms. The infection is frequently not diagnosed or treated until complications develop.

In women, the bacteria initially attack the cervix (opening to the uterus) and the urethra (urine canal). The few women with symptoms might have an abnormal vaginal discharge or a burning sensation when urinating. When the infection spreads from the cervix to the fallopian tubes, some women still have no signs or symptoms; others have lower abdominal pain, low back pain, nausea, fever, pain during intercourse, and bleeding between menstrual periods. Whenever the infection spreads past the cervix into the upper reproductive system, permanent and irreversible damage can occur.

Men with signs or symptoms might have a discharge from the penis and a burning sensation when urinating. Men might also have burning and itching around the opening of the penis or pain and swelling in the testicles, or both.1

Because chlamydial infection does not make most people sick, you can have it and not know it. Those who do have symptoms may have an abnormal discharge (mucus or pus) from the vagina or penis or pain while urinating. These early symptoms may be very mild. Symptoms usually appear within one to three weeks after being infected. Because the symptoms may be mild or not exist at all, you might not seek care and get treated.

The infection may move inside the body if it is not treated. There, it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women and epidydimitis in men, two very serious illnesses.

C. trachomatis can cause inflamed rectum and inflammation of the lining of the eye ("pink eye"). The bacteria also can infect the throat from oral sexual contact with an infected partner.2

Can Chlamydial Infection Affect a Newborn Baby? A baby who is exposed to C. trachomatis in the birth canal during delivery may develop an eye infection or pneumonia. Symptoms of conjunctivitis or "pink eye," which include discharge and swollen eyelids, usually develop within the first 10 days of life.

Symptoms of pneumonia, including a cough that gets steadily worse and congestion, most often develop within three to six weeks of birth. Doctors can treat both conditions successfully with antibiotics. Because of these risks to the newborn, many doctors recommend that all pregnant women get tested for chlamydial infection.2

As many as 85 percent of women with chlamydial infections are asymptomatic; 40 percent of infected men report no symptoms.3

In both men and women, chlamydial infection may cause an abnormal genital discharge and burning with urination. In women, untreated chlamydial infection may lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, one of the most common causes of ectopic pregnancy and infertility in women. Many people with chlamydial infection, however, have few or no symptoms of infection4

Symptoms of chlamydia include abnormal genital discharge which appear within 1 to 3 weeks after exposure. However, half of infected women and 25 percent of infected men may have no symptoms whatsoever. Chlamydia in women can cause pelvic inflammatory disease and thus potential infertility, inflamed rectum (proctitis), and inflammation of the lining of the eye (conjunctivitis). Laboratory tests can confirm presence of chlamydial infection and distinguish it from gonorrhea, another common and often accompanying STD.5

Men and women with chlamydial infections may experience abnormal genital discharge or pain during urination. These early symptoms may be absent or very mild, but if they occur, they will do so within 1 to 3 weeks of exposure. One of every two women and one of every four infected men may have no symptoms at all. As a result, the disease is often not diagnosed until complications develop. In addition to pelvic inflammatory disease (see above), chlamydia can cause an inflamed rectum and conjunctivitis (inflammation of the lining of the eye). The bacteria have also been found in the throat as a result of oral sexual contact with an infected partner. 5

More symptoms of Chlamydia: In addition to the above information, to get a full picture of the possible symptoms of this condition and its related conditions, it may be necessary to examine symptoms that may be caused by complications of Chlamydia, underlying causes of Chlamydia, associated conditions for Chlamydia, risk factors for Chlamydia, or other related conditions.

Medical articles on symptoms: These general reference articles may be of interest:

1. excerpt from Chlamydia-Disease Information: DSTD
2. excerpt from Chlamydial Infection, NIAID Fact Sheet: NIAID
3. excerpt from Sexually Transmitted Diseases Statistics, NIAID Fact Sheet: NIAID
4. excerpt from Sexually Transmitted Diseases, NIAID Fact Sheet: NIAID
5. excerpt from Chlamydia: NWHIC

Last revision: October 23, 2003

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