Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that usually results from a Chlamydia trachomatis bacterial infection spread by having unprotected oral, anal, or vaginal sex with someone who has chlamydia.
Chlamydia usually doesn’t cause many noticeable symptoms, so it can be hard to recognize. And when it does cause symptoms, they usually don’t appear until at least a few weeks after you’ve contracted the infection.
With chlamydia, it’s best to err on the side of caution and get tested as soon as possible if there’s a chance you might have it.
You should also get an STI test if you notice any of these chlamydia symptoms.
One of the most common chlamydia symptoms in males is an unusual, foul-smelling discharge from the penis. The discharge may slowly ooze out of the opening of the penis head and collect around the tip.
This discharge usually looks thick and cloudy, but it can also be more brown or yellow in color.
Another common symptom of chlamydia is a burning or stinging sensation when you urinate.
This is caused by inflammation of your urinary tract, which includes your:
Urine also irritates already inflamed tissue as it exits your urethra, resulting in pain that can range from mild to almost unbearable.
The pain may feel more severe if you develop male chlamydial urethritis, a complication of chlamydia.
In some cases, chlamydia can cause pain and swelling in your testicles. This happens when chlamydia-causing bacteria make their way to your testicles or scrotum.
The area might also feel:
- warm to the touch
- full or heavy, as if your scrotum is full of fluid
This symptom tends to be more common in females, but males can experience it, too.
It can present in two different ways:
- You feel a strong, urgent need to urinate out of nowhere. This can happen even if you aren’t drinking more fluid than usual.
- You feel the need to urinate more often than usual, but only a little comes out each time.
If you developed chlamydia after having unprotected anal sex, you might notice symptoms in your anus or rectum.
These symptoms are similar to other typical chlamydia symptoms, but they affect your anal area rather than your penis or scrotum.
They can include:
You may also notice some light bleeding.
You can also develop a chlamydia infection in your eye. This might happen if you get the genital fluid of someone who has chlamydia in your eye.
It can also happen if you have chlamydia and touch your eyes after touching your penis or coming into contact with urethral or anal discharge.
Common symptoms of a chlamydia infection in your eye include:
- red, irritated eyes
- milky white discharge from your eyes
- sensation of something in your eye
- persistent tearing
- eyelid swelling
If you have unprotected oral sex with someone who has chlamydia, you can develop a chlamydia in infection in your throat, though this is rare.
Symptoms of throat chlamydia include:
- sore throat
- dental problems
- sores around your lips and mouth
- mouth pain
If you notice any of the above symptoms, see your primary care provider as soon as possible to get tested for chlamydia or other STIs.
They can use several methods to check for chlamydia, including:
- a urine test
- a throat swab culture
- a blood test
Uneasy about getting tested?
There’s no reason to feel embarrassed about taking care of your health, but some people don’t feel comfortable going to their usual provider for STI testing.
Planned Parenthood offers affordable, confidential testing across the United States.
Chlamydia infections don’t go away on their own — they need to be treated with antibiotics.
If left untreated, chlamydia infections can result in:
- male chlamydial urethritis
- non-gonococcal urethritis
- reactive arthritis
Remember, chlamydia often doesn’t cause any symptoms. If there’s any chance you could have it, getting tested as soon as possible is your best bet for avoiding long-term damage.
Chlamydia can be a tricky STI to recognize because it often doesn’t cause symptoms. If you do get tested and find that you have chlamydia, you’ll likely just need a course of antibiotics. Make sure to take the full course as prescribed.
Also be sure to notify and recent sexual partners so they can get tested and treated, if needed.