What is Chlamydia?

Chlamydia is a common STD caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. According to the CDC, there are approximately 2.86 million chlamydia infections reported annually, making it the most frequently reported bacterial STD in the United States.

Many individuals are not aware that they have chlamydia because it is considered a “silent” STD, meaning that its symptoms are usually mild or completely absent.

Common signs and symptoms of chlamydia

When chlamydia symptoms do appear, they typically present themselves 1-3 weeks after exposure to the bacteria. For women, symptoms may include an abnormal vaginal discharge or a painful or burning sensation during urination.

If the infection spreads, women can experience abdominal and pelvic pain, fever, nausea, bleeding between periods and pain during sex.

For men, symptoms may include a painful burning sensation during urination, and/or unusual discharge from the penis. For both men and women, symptoms of rectal infection may include rectal pain or bleeding.

How chlamydia testing works

You can order our Nucleic Acid Amplification (NAA) Chlamydia Test if you believe you have recently contracted a chlamydia infection.

This NAA test is a simple urine test that can be taken 1­-5 days after potential exposure to chlamydia. We also offer chlamydia testing as part of our all­-inclusive, FDA­-approved 10-Test Panel that tests for all common STDs.

More information about chlamydia testing

The FDA-approved NAA test is the standard test used for chlamydia screening. It is recommended by the CDC for its accuracy in diagnosing the existence of the Chlamydia trachomatis bacterium.

The chlamydia test is so sensitive that it is unlikely to have a “false positive” result. If your results come back positive, we offer a doctor consultation over the phone. Our doctors may be able to prescribe chlamydia treatment at their discretion.

Who is at risk for contracting chlamydia?

Chlamydia is contracted via vaginal, anal or oral sex. Sexually active teenage girls and young women are more susceptible to contracting infections, including chlamydia, because their cervixes (opening to the uterus) have not fully matured.

Adult men and women who engage in unprotected sex are also prone to the bacteria. A chlamydia infection can also be passed from mother to infant during vaginal childbirth.

Is chlamydia curable?

Chlamydia can be treated and cured with antibiotics. Individuals infected with chlamydia should abstain from sex for 7 days in order to allow the antibiotics to work and to prevent spreading the bacteria to others.

Likewise, your partner should as be treated to avoid you getting re­-infected. A re­-infection of chlamydia is common, particularly when a person’s sexual partners have not been properly treated.

Our doctors recommend that you and your partner get re­-tested for chlamydia approximately 21 to 28 days after treatment. This helps ensure the health of both parties and helps mitigate any potential long­term health complications from the chlamydia bacterium.

Effects of untreated chlamydia

If left untreated, a chlamydia infection can have major health consequences. Untreated infections in women can lead to chronic pelvic pain and prenatal problems.

Repeated chlamydia infections may result in serious reproductive issues, including complications during pregnancy and infertility. In addition, women exposed to chlamydia are at a higher risk for contracting HIV.

For men, an untreated case of chlamydia can spread to other parts of the penis, prostate and testicles and cause pain and inflammation. If not properly treated, chlamydia can also result in male sterility.

Ways to prevent chlamydia

The number one way to prevent contracting chlamydia is abstinence. If you are not willing to abstain from sex, you can practice safer sex by consistently using condoms or dental dams.

Being in a monogamous relationship with someone who is not infected with chlamydia will also help prevent infection.

Talking about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and getting tested with your new partner before engaging in a sexual relationship is another way to help prevent getting chlamydia.

How long do chlamydia symptoms take to appear?

If symptoms appear at all in chlamydia infections, they typically manifest 1-3 weeks after exposure. This bacterial infection can be contracted via oral, vaginal or anal sex.

Chlamydia in women

Chlamydia is the most frequently reported sexually transmitted bacterial infection in the United States. In 2011 alone, approximately 1.4 million chlamydia cases were reported to the CDC.

It is CDC estimated that 1 out of 15 sexually active teenage girls (ages 14-19) has a chlamydia infection. Chlamydia is easy to spread because it’s likeliness to have very mild or no symptoms, and thus many unknowingly pass it on to others.

The CDC recommends that sexually active women get tested for STDs on an annual basis. Getting tested regularly is especially important since chlamydia infection increases the risk of contracting another STD such as HIV.

How chlamydia infects women

The chlamydia bacterium first infects the cervix (the passageway which joins the vagina and the uterus). Symptoms of a chlamydia infection may include vaginal discharge, bleeding between periods, painful urination and stomach pain.

From there, the infection may spread upward to the urethra (urine canal), the uterus (womb) and the Fallopian tubes (tubes that carry fertilized eggs from the ovaries to the uterus). If the infection is left untreated, it can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

In addition, chlamydia can lead to serious consequences such as infertility and ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy in which the embryo develops outside of the womb).

Chlamydia Symptoms in Women

Most Common

  • Silent or no symptoms (in 75% of women with chlamydia)

Less Common

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge (may have an odor)
  • Pain during urination
  • Rectal pain, discharge or bleeding
  • Inflamed eye

Least Common

  • Bleeding between menstrual cycles
  • Lower bellyache
  • Lower back pain
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Pain during sex
  • Sore throat

Chlamydia in men

Like women, many men with chlamydia do not experience any symptoms due to the “silent’ nature of the infection.

When symptoms do occur in men, they may include a thick, yellow-white, milky or watery discharge from the penis and/or a burning sensation during urination.

Pain and swelling in the testes may also occur, although such symptoms are less common.

An untreated chlamydia infection in men can result in nongonococcal urethritis (NGU), an infection of the urethra, as well as epididymitis, an infection of the epididymis (the tube that carries sperm away from the testes).

For these reasons, men who regularly engage in sexual activity should value the importance of annual chlamydia testing.

Chlamydia Symptoms in Men

Most Common

  • Silent or no symptoms (in 50% of men with chlamydia)

Less Common

  • Abnormal penile discharge (thick, yellow-white, milky or watery)
  • Pain during urination
  • Rectal pain, discharge or bleeding
  • Inflamed eye

Least Common

  • Itching and burning around the opening of the penis
  • Testicular pain and swelling
  • Sore throat

Untreated chlamydia can lead to health complications

Both men and women may experience rectal, eye and throat symptoms due to chlamydia. Individuals who contract a chlamydia infection during anal sex may experience symptoms as rectal pain, bleeding or discharge.

An untreated infection can also lead to an inflammation of the rectum in both men and women. Chlamydia can also infect the eyelids, leading to inflammation and conjunctivitis (eyelid discharge).

In some cases, a chlamydia infection transmitted during oral sex may lead to a sore throat. Our doctors recommend seeking medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms to avoid any serious or deadly complications.

How is chlamydia transmitted?

Chlamydia is transmitted through vaginal, anal or (occasionally) oral sex. A chlamydia infection can be passed between sex partners even if the man does not ejaculate.

Once transmitted, chlamydia bacterium targets the moist mucous membranes of the transmission site, whether it is the penis, vagina, anus (rectum), throat or eyelid(s).

Chlamydia can also be transmitted during vaginal childbirth, during which the mother can unknowingly pass her infection to her baby. As a result, the child can potentially develop a serious eye infection or pneumonia.

Effects of untreated chlamydia?

Chlamydia infections that are left untreated can lead to serious health and reproductive issues. The Chlamydia trachomatis bacterium targets the body’s moist, mucous membranes, including inside the penis, vagina, anus, throat and eyelids.

In extreme cases, a woman with an untreated case of chlamydia can acquire PID (pelvic inflammatory disease). PID damages the uterus and Fallopian tubes and as a result can lead to complications during pregnancy or even infertility.

For men, an untreated chlamydia infection can cause pain and inflammation in the penis, prostate and testes. In some rare cases, sterility is a possible outcome.

The CDC recommends that sexually active women 25 years or younger, men and women with new and/or multiple sex partners, and men who regularly engage in sexual activity with other men get tested annually for chlamydia and other STDs.

Can I get re-infected with chlamydia?

Yes, it is possible to get re-infected with chlamydia, especially if you have sex with an infected partner. Antibiotics you take can cure only your own chlamydia infection, not also your partner’s infection.

Antibiotics for chlamydia will not make you immune to the bacterium that causes the infection.

This is why it is especially important to get tested with your partner in order to ensure that both individuals are tested, treated, and cured before engaging in sexual activity again.

It is advised to wait 7 days after completing treatment before engaging in sexual activity again.

Is chlamydia preventable?

To prevent or reduce your risk of contracting chlamydia, you have a few options. You can be sexually abstinent, which is the only way to be sure you will not get chlamydia or any other STD.

If you engage in sexual intercourse, you can use a latex condom or dental dam whenever you have oral, vaginal or anal sex.

You can help decrease your odds of a chlamydia infection by practicing monogamy or limiting your number of sexual partners.

Finally, if you suspect that you have chlamydia, or experience any unusual symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Getting tested for chlamydia and other STDs with your partner can ensure both your sexual health and theirs.

Importance of informing your partner you have chlamydia.

If diagnosed, it is important to inform your partner about your chlamydia infection as soon as possible.

Why? Because chlamydia is a common and highly contagious infection– If you test positive for chlamydia, the odds are likely that your sex partner is also infected.

In fact, you and your partner may want to get tested and treated for chlamydia together, so that you can minimize your chances of acquiring the infection again or passing it along to someone else.

If you test positive, you are eligible for a phone consultation with a doctor who can advise you about available treatments.

Is there a relationship between chlamydia and HIV?

An untreated chlamydia infection increases an individual’s chances of acquiring or transmitting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

In particular, women with chlamydia are at greater risk of getting HIV than those without chlamydia.

All sexually active individuals need to seriously consider annual STD screenings as a way to help maintain optimum sexual health.

The importance of pregnant women getting tested for chlamydia

In pregnant women, untreated chlamydia infections can lead to premature delivery. According to the CDC, chlamydia infection is the leading cause of prenatal pneumonia and conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, in newborns.

The best method for preventing such neonatal complications is for pregnant women to get screened and treated for chlamydia by their doctor during their first prenatal visit.

Is there a cure or treatment for chlamydia?

Yes, chlamydia can be cured with antibiotics. To eliminate the Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria in your system, doctors often prescribe azithromycin and doxycycline.

These antibiotics can be taken orally either in a single dose (in the case of azithromycin) or over several days (in the case of doxycycline).

If you test positive for chlamydia, we can provide a written prescription and a doctor consultation. During this call, your doctor will discuss treatment options and determine which antibiotics are right for you.

We offer a written prescription for your partner. We can even call the prescriptions into your pharmacy for you.

Can I get re-infected with chlamydia?

Yes, it is possible to get re-infected with chlamydia, especially if you have sex with an infected partner. Antibiotics you take can cure only your own chlamydia infection, not also your partner’s infection.

Antibiotics for chlamydia will not make you immune to the bacterium that causes the infection.

This is why it is especially important to get tested with your partner in order to ensure that both individuals are tested, treated, and cured before engaging in sexual activity again.

It is advised to wait 7 days after completing treatment before engaging in sexual activity again.

Chlamydia and gonorrhea treatment

Individuals infected with chlamydia tend to be prone to contracting a gonorrhea infection as well. For this reason, doctors typically recommend that patients be tested for both infections during the same visit.

Treating chlamydia during pregnancy

Before taking antibiotics, pregnant women should consult their doctor. A doctor will be able to determine the risks involved and can suggest the antibiotics that are the most appropriate.

That being said, chlamydia can be cured during pregnancy with antibiotics. In pregnant women, untreated chlamydia infections can lead to premature delivery.

According to the CDC, chlamydia infection is the leading cause of prenatal pneumonia and conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, in newborns.

The best method for preventing such neonatal complications is for pregnant women to get screened and treated for chlamydia by their doctor during their first prenatal visit.