Chlamydia is caused by bacteria found in semen and vaginal fluids, which are easily passed from one person to another through sexual contact.

At least half of all infected men and women will not have any symptoms at all. Symptoms can show up 1-3 weeks after coming into contact with Chlamydia, many months later or not until infection spread to other parts of the body.

Signs and Symptoms

 Women  Men
An unusual vaginal discharge A white/cloudy and watery discharge from the tip of the penis
Pain when passing urine Pain when passing urine
Bleeding between periods Painful and swollen testicles
Bleeding after sex  
Pain and/or bleeding when you have sex  
Lower abdominal pain  

Infection in the rectum rarely has symptoms but may cause discomfort and discharge in both men and women. If the eyes become infected you may experience pain, swelling, irritation and discharge (conjunctivitis). Infection of the throat usually has no symptoms.

If left untreated

The infection can spread to other parts of the body causing damage and serious long-term complications.

In women Chlamydia can spread to other reproductive organs causing pelvis inflammatory disease (PID). This can lead to long-term pelvic pain, blocked fallopian tubes, infertility and ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy that occurs outside the womb).

Chlamydia can spread to the liver causing pain and inflammation, though this is rare. In men it can lead to a painful infection in the testicles and possibly reduce fertility. It is thought that in some men it might cause the prostrate to become inflamed.

Inflammation of the joints can occur (reactive arthritis) which is sometimes accompanied by inflammation of the urethra and the eyes when it is known as Reiter’s Syndrome. This is rare and it occurs more in men than in women.

Any concerns?

If you have any concerns please contact your local GUM clinic, see map of services.

Page last updated:28 October 2014