Chlamydia Symptoms in Women & Men, or Psssst…You Can’t See Me!
Not all STDs show themselves as apparent infections. Chlamydia in fact is referred to as the “silent” STD as chlamydia symptoms in women may not be noticeable (in 75% of cases) despite a present infection which is highly contagious. Since chlamydia symptoms in women are often hidden, the chance of infection increases due to unintended transmission during sexual activity. In the same way as chlamydia symptoms in women are often not noticeable, over 50% of infected men also show no signs of infection.
What Causes Chlamydia Infections?
Chlamydia infections are caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis which is only found in human cells and is transmitted through sexual activities and even from the mother to the child during a vaginal birth. Chlamydia causes genotal and eye infections in human; the later can end in blindness if not diagnosed and treated early (chlamydia conjunctivitis and trachoma).
What makes the infection dangerous is its “silent” nature. Chlamydia symptoms in women are absent in 3/4 of cases; half of the men might also not show any symptoms.
Chlamydia Symptoms in Women
Chlamydia symptoms in women are not present in 75% of cases making the infection easy to spread and cause further complications. Chlamydia symptoms in women, if there are present, include:
- Abnormal vaginal discharge which may have an odor
- Abnormal bleeding between periods
- Painful periods
- Abdominal pain and fever
- Pain during intercourse (dyspareunia)
- Itching or burning in or around the vagina
- Pain when urinating (dysuria)
Due to the absence of chlamydia symptoms in women, the infection may spread upward and cause serious complications like pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or serious damage to the female reproductive system. Due to the lack of chlamydia symptoms in women, the infection may linger for years before be detected.
Chlamydia Symptoms in Men
Over 50% of men may not show any signs of infection. If chlamydia infections causes symptoms in men, they may include:
- Clear or cloudy discharge from the tip of the penis (urethral discharge)
- Painful urination (dysuria)
- Burning or itching around the urethral opening
- Pain and swelling around the testicles
Chlamydia infection, if untreated, may cause epididymitis in men.
How Is Chlamydia Diagnosed?
Your doctor will take a sample from urethral discharge or vaginal fluid and send it to the lab for analysis.
How Is Chlamydia Infection Treated?
Due to the lack of chlamydia symptoms in women, every diagnosed case of chlamydia infections warrants a treatment of the partner at the same time even if chlamydia symptoms in women may not show themselves initially. Chlamydia infections are usually treated with oral azithromycin or doxycycline. The infections usually clears up in one or two weeks. Severe infections in women may require hospitalization and intravenous antibiotic. It is very important that you finish all antibiotics, do not have sex while still taking antibiotics, and repeat the test after finishing your medication.
What Else Should You Know?
Due to the lack of chlamydia symptoms in women, a screening in non-pregnant women who are sexually active and under 25 years of age or at high infection risk is highly recommended.
How Can I Prevent Chlamydia Infections?
Since chlamydia symptoms in women are absent in most of the cases, latex condoms may reduce the risk of acquiring chlamydia infections. The safest way of preventing chlamydia infections is a monogamous relationship with a trusted partner who has no history of chlamydia infection or has been tested negative for chlamydia infection.