Chlamydia can cause symptoms that include foul-smelling vaginal discharge and bleeding between periods. You may have additional symptoms depending on the location of the infection.

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can affect both males and females.

Up to 95 percent of females with chlamydia don’t experience any symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is problematic because chlamydia can cause damage to your reproductive system if left untreated.

But chlamydia can occasionally cause symptoms. Here’s a look at the common ones you might notice.

Just remember, you could still have chlamydia without these symptoms. If there’s a chance you may have been exposed to the bacteria, your safest bet is to get tested as soon as possible.

Chlamydia can cause unusual vaginal discharge. It might be:

You’ll typically notice these changes within one to three weeks of developing chlamydia.

Chlamydia can also affect your rectum. This can result from having unprotected anal sex or a vaginal chlamydia infection spreading to your rectum.

You might also notice mucus-like discharge coming from your rectum.

Chlamydia sometimes causes inflammation that leads to bleeding between your periods. This bleeding may range from light to moderately heavy.

Chlamydia can also lead to bleeding after any type of sexual activity involving penetration.

Chlamydia can also cause abdominal pain for some people.

This pain is usually felt in the lower abdomen and originates in your pelvic area. The pain may be cramping, dull, or even sharp.

In rare cases, you can develop a chlamydia infection in your eye, known as chlamydia conjunctivitis. This happens when you get the genital fluid of someone who has chlamydia in your eye.

Eye chlamydia can cause the following symptoms in your eye:

  • irritation
  • sensitivity to light
  • redness
  • discharge

Fevers are usually a sign that your body is fighting some kind of infection. If you have chlamydia, you may experience a mild to moderate fever.

Chlamydia can cause a burning sensation when you urinate. It’s easy to mistake this for a symptom of a urinary tract infection.

You might also feel like you have the urge to urinate more often than usual. And when you do go to urinate, only a little bit comes out. Your urine might also smell unusual or look cloudy.

If you have chalmydia, you might also feel some pain during sex, especially intercourse.

You may also some bleeding and lingering irritation after any type of sexual activity involving penetration.

In addition to lower abdominal pain, chlamydia can also cause lower back pain. This pain may feel similar to the lower back pain that’s associated with urinary tract infections.

If left untreated, a chlamydia infection can travel throughout your reproductive system, including your uterus and fallopian tubes. The resulting inflammation, swelling, and potential scarring can cause lasting damage.

You can also develop a condition called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) due to a chlamydia infection. Up to 15 percent of untreated cases of chlamydia in females turn into pelvic inflammatory disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Like chlamydia, PID doesn’t always cause symptoms in its earliest stages. But over time, it can cause long-term effects, including fertility problems and pregnancy complications.

If you’re pregnant and have chlamydia, you can transmit the infection to the fetus, resulting in a range of potential health problems, including blindness or reduced lung function.

That’s why it’s important to get screened for STIs, including chlamydia, in your first trimester. Early treatment is important. The earlier the diagnosis, the sooner treatment can start to ensure the infection won’t be transmitted to the baby or complications don’t arise.

play it safe

If there’s any chance at all that you might have chlamydia, see your primary care provider as soon as possible to get tested.

If you don’t have a primary care provider or don’t want to go to them for an STI test, Planned Parenthood offers low-cost, confidential testing throughout the United States.

Chlamydia often doesn’t cause noticeable symptoms, but it can have a lasting impact on your health. An STI test is a quick, painless way to determine whether you have chlamydia.

If you do, you’ll be prescribed antibiotics. Make sure to take the full course as directed, even if your symptoms start to clear up before the end of the course.