What are the Symptoms of Chlamydia?

Bhavna Singh   by Bhavna Singh, MS, Biotechnology    Last updated on September 27, 2019,

symptoms of chlamydia


Chlamydia is one of the most commonly transmitted diseases globally. It is the most easily spread infection and often has no symptoms. This disease is unknowingly passed to sexual partners.

About 75% of infections in women and 50% in men are almost without symptom. It is not easy to tell if the person is infected or not before diagnosis as the symptoms are not apparent.

Symptoms do appear but usually after a week or two of infection. Some symptoms in males and females are listed below.

Common signs of infection

Following are the three main noticeable signs of infection:

  • abnormal (yellow, white or green color) discharge that may have odor
  • painful sexual intercourse
  • burning and painful urination

In severe cases, the infection may spread to fallopian tube in women which can cause Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Below given are the symptoms of PID:

  • severe pelvic pain
  • nausea
  • abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • fever

Sometimes, it is possible that the infection may reach the anus/rectum. This happens either by receptive anal sex or spread from another site like a vagina. The symptoms are:

  • rectal pain
  • discharge
  • bleeding

Having oral sex with someone who is already infected, can give you throat infection. Since Chlamydia is a bacterial infection transmitted sexually, it affects various parts of the body.

Following are the various signs and symptoms seen in Chlamydia:

Infection in genitals

Chlamydia infection in the cervix (passage way of the womb) is a sexually transmitted infection which generally shows no visible symptoms in about 75% of cases. This Infection may be transmitted through vaginal, anal or oral sex.

In most of the cases, this infection matures into the Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Pelvic inflammatory disease is a common term used for the infection of the uterus, fallopian tube and ovaries. It causes serious wounds in the uterus which later on leads to serious complications like difficulty in conceiving, ectopic tubal pregnancy etc. 

Chlamydia is known as “silent epidemic” in women as it does not show any visible symptom for months and sometimes for years of infection. Signs of Chlamydia infection in genital include:

  • bleeding between periods
  • painful periods
  • abnormal (yellow or green color) vaginal discharge that may have an odor
  • painful sexual intercourse (dyspareunia)
  • burning and painful urination
  • itching in or around the vagina
  • burning sensation during urination
  • frequent urge to urinate
  • severe lower belly and back pain
  • nausea

Screening is recommended in sexually active women under the age of 25 years as they are at the highest risk. 

Men with chlamydia infection show infectious inflammation of urethra in most of the cases. Chlamydia is a potential cause of prostatic inflammation in men and may also cause urethritis in the infected person.

Following are the signs and symptoms of chlamydia infection in men:

  • painful and burning sensation during urinating
  • fever and frequent urge to urinate
  • pain or swelling around testicles
  • abnormal  (thick yellow, white, clear or cloudy) discharge from the tip of the penis
  • rectal discharge and bleeding

In 50% of the cases in men, there is no symptom which is called as “silent infection”.

The chlamydia infection can be serious if left untreated. It can spread to the testicles and cause epididymitis which in many cases lead to infertility in men.

Read about treatment of chlamydia.

Infection in throat

Throat infection in Chlamydia is actually a rare sexually transmitted disease. It is transferred through oral sex with an infected individual. Though this infection does not show any symptom usually, common signs may include:

  • sore throat
  • throat redness
  • throat irritation
  • mouth ulcers and abrasions
  • fever

Symptoms do take a week or so to develop after transmission. If sore throat lasts for more than a week, it needs to be checked out by doctor. It may lead to pneumonia and bronchitis.

Pain while swallowing can be an indicator of throat Chlamydia. Sometimes, solid foods can be bit difficult to swallow.

Chlamydia infection may bolster the natural defence system of the body which promote fever. Infection in throat may not be very easy to diagnose. Read about diagnosis of Chlamydia.

Infection in eyes

Chlamydia infection in eyes is also known as Chlamydia conjunctivitis or trachoma. If left untreated, Chlamydia conjunctivitis may mature into Chlamydial Inclusion Conjunctivitis. It is a major cause of blindness worldwide.

The infection may spread from eyes to eyes by a finger or from contaminated towel or clothes. People can also develop an infection in eyes by coughing or sneezing or even by eye-seeking.

New born babies develop this infection from their already affected mother. Following are the symptoms:

  • Pain and inflammation in eyes
  • Gritty feeling in eyes (feeling that a sand-like particle is in eye)
  • Blurred vision
  • Itching and redness in eyes (may be in both eyes or one eye)
  • Pus-like fluid from the eyes or formation of crusts (usually in the morning)
  • Sticky eyelids and difficulty in opening
  • Swelling in lymph nodes in front of eyes

If left untreated, Chlamydia can lead to permanent blindness.

Infection during pregnancy and in infants

Infants born to mothers who already have this disease will be infected. Also, Chlamydia can lead to spontaneous abortion and premature delivery due to rupture of uterine membranes. Apart from this, the baby may be under weight when born due to Chlamydia.

As the baby passes through birth canal, it will come in contact with bodily fluids which may cause infection in genitals, lungs, ears and eyes. Infection in new born may lead to permanent blindness and in some cases pneumonia.

Neonatal conjunctivitis

Untreated Chlamydia poses health risk to new born babies and their eyes. Infant may develop inclusion conjunctivitis. About 25 to 50 percent of newborns with this infection develop pink eyes and have pus discharge from eyes. They also suffer from eye swelling.

Pneumonia in infants

Exposure to the bacteria during childbirth could lead to pneumonia and infection in respiratory tract of infants. Symptoms include:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Rapid breathing
  • Coughing

Baby may also develop fever because of respiratory tract infection and if left untreated may result in respiratory failure. Even if the symptoms may be very mild, but it is necessary to immediately consult a doctor.

Reactive arthritis

Chlamydia infection may cause reactive arthritis. It is a triad of arthritis, conjunctivitis and urethral infection. It is more common in young men. Each year more than 15,000 men develop reactive arthritis and about 5000 of them gets permanently affected by it. It occurs in both the sexes however men are more prone to it.

Following are the symptoms of reactive arthritis:

  • Arthritis (joint pain, swelling and limited motion of ankles, knees and feet)
  • Conjunctivitis (redness in eyes with a sticky discharge and blurred vision)
  • Uveitis (Redness near the iris of the eye and pain in eyes)
  • Urethritis (Painful urination and a discharge from the penis or vagina)

Other infections

Sometimes infection may reach lymph nodes and lymphatic system. This is called as lymphogranuloma venereum. Swollen lymph node of genital area is the common signs seen during the infection of lymph nodes. However, it may also cause rectal inflammation and swelling of lymph nodes in other parts of the body.

Bhavna Singh

Bhavna Singh is a biotechnologist with a special interest in molecular biology, genetic engineering, recombinant DNA technology, and biochemistry. She pursued her Master’s degree in Biotechnology from Gautam Buddha University, Greater Noida. Bhavna has also worked as a Research Fellow at Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi.

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