Diagnosing chlamydia can be difficult due to it sharing symptoms with a wide range of sexually transmitted infections. The only way to fully know if you have chlamydia is to take a test, but it can be hard to know whether you need a test if you don't know the symptoms of chlamydia are.
Both men and women will show different symptoms if they contract chlamydia, so it's best to familiarise yourself with the differences. Below you can find a guide to the most common symptoms and what to do if you notice any of these symptoms!
Like most sexually transmitted infections, chlamydia will harbour different symptoms depending on whether you are male or female. This means it can be hard to know exactly what symptoms to look out for if you don't know the difference.
Some symptoms are the same across both sexes, but it's best to know the difference between them so you can be certain whether or not you need a test. Below are some of the most common symptoms a man may come across if he contracts chlamydia:
Some of the above symptoms may be related to other issues, so it can be hard to fully know whether your symptoms are a sign of chlamydia or not. The only way you can be sure is to get tested for chlamydia at your local clinic or using an at-home testing kit.
If you are currently sexually active, staying on top of your sexual health is incredibly important to you and any prospective sexual partners.
Although both sexes share some symptoms, chlamydia can be harder to diagnose when it comes to women. Many of the symptoms are shared with other infections, and in over 70% of cases, there are no symptoms.
Below you can find a breakdown of some of the most common symptoms you experience if you contract Chlamydia trachomatis. However, keep in mind that not all of the symptoms are unique to chlamydia, so the only way to truly know is to get a test:
If you notice any of these symptoms, it's best to be safe rather than sorry and book yourself a chlamydia test. Within the UK, tests are completely free and can be done at home or by visiting your nearby sexual health clinic.
You can either get a urine or swab test; both shouldn't last much longer than 10-15 minutes. This means you can book your test, send it off to the lab to be tested and get on with your day.
Regarding how long it takes for your results to get back, you shouldn't need to wait much longer than 7 to 14 days. Avoid having any form of sex, including sex without a condom, to make sure you don't risk spreading chlamydia to any sexual partners during that time.
If left untreated, chlamydia can quickly cause lifetime complications that may reduce your fertility or cause issues with pregnancies. These issues are especially common if you are a woman, but infertility issues can also arise amongst men.
One of the biggest complications caused by chlamydia in women is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, PID for short. This can lead to infertility issues and can massively increase the risk of an ectopic pregnancy. This is where the egg is implanted outside of the womb, most commonly in the fallopian tubes.
In terms of long term complications for men, chlamydia can cause swelling in the epididymis tubes, a major cause of infertility.
Considering chlamydia can be treated fairly quickly using a short course of antibiotics, there is truly no reason to risk these long term complications. Booking a test takes minutes, and the test will last no longer than 15 minutes, so be sure to get a sexual health check-up regularly!
Chlamydia can be fairly complicated as a large percentage of people who contract it will rarely show any symptoms at all. With around 50% of men and around 70% of women showing zero symptoms, it can be hard to tell if you have caught chlamydia.
Your typical symptoms may also remain dormant for anywhere between 1 to 3 weeks meaning chlamydia can go undetected for a long time. Chlamydia infections also share symptoms with a wide range of other infections; this makes it hard to diagnose chlamydia without a test.
The longer that chlamydia goes undetected, the higher your chances of suffering a long-term complication. If you are currently sexually active, especially if you frequently have sex without a condom, you will want to get a chlamydia test at least once a year.
The length of your symptoms will depend entirely on whether or not the infection goes untreated and for how long for. Some complications from untreated chlamydia will not rear their head until a few years have passed.
With successful treatment, most chlamydia symptoms should subside between 2 to 4 weeks, but usually in less than 2 weeks. The intensity of the symptoms will differ from person to person, so these numbers can change.
However, if left untreated, chlamydia can cause lifetime complications such as infertility or even an ectopic pregnancy (where the egg is implanted outside of the womb). These long-term symptoms can be extremely traumatic.
Chlamydia can be difficult to diagnose without a test due to it sharing symptoms with a range of sexually transmitted infections. On top of this, over 70% of women and 50% of males won't show any symptoms at all.
The only way you can be certain that you have chlamydia and that your sexual health is fine is to get a test for chlamydia. A test is the best way to be sure that you and any partners don't currently have an infection.
The most popular form of chlamydia treatment is a course of antibiotics that will completely clear the infection. There is a range of different antibiotic courses suitable for clearing chlamydia infections, some will last a week whilst others only last for a single day.
Commonly, under-25s will require another course of treatment 3 months after their initial round of antibiotics. This is to ensure that all of the infection has been successfully cleared up and that your sexual health is well-maintained.
If you have recently tested positive for chlamydia before, you are more at risk of catching it again. This is why another course may be required a few months further down the line. Your doctors will help walk you through this, so you don't need to worry about planning around a second course.
After a positive test, you will need to contact anyone that you have recently had sex with to let them know to get a chlamydia test as soon as they can. This can be pretty daunting, but thankfully your local sexual health or GUM clinic will be able to help you out with this.
Some clinics will even give you the option to remain completely anonymous so you can alert sexual partners without sharing your details. Contacting anyone you have recently had sexual intercourse with is a must if you test positive for chlamydia!
If you are at all worried that you may have contracted chlamydia, then your doctor will almost certainly help you. Testing is free and can even be done at home, so it's straightforward to regularly get tested for chlamydia if you are currently sexually active.
Most clinics will offer a testing kit on-site, but if not, then ordering a free kit to use at home is also an option. Be sure to ask your doctor for options if you are unsure what steps you need to take next to treat chlamydia.
Health problems due to untreated chlamydia infections will differ depending on whether you are a male or a female. If you are a woman with chlamydia left untreated, you may be prone to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). This can lead to infertility or even an ectopic pregnancy.
For men, you may suffer swelling within your Epididymis tubes, the tubes that carry sperm. This can also lead to infertility and can cause some pretty serious issues further down the road.
Treating an infection usually only requires a short course of antibiotics, which is far easier than dealing with the complications that may arise later in your life.
Anyone who tests positive for chlamydia should instantly alert any current sexual partners. They should also avoid vaginal, anal or oral sex to prevent the sexually transmitted infection from spreading.
Although chlamydia is most frequently spread through unprotected sex, you should also avoid protected sex if you currently have an untreated chlamydia infection. Chlamydia trachomatis can cause serious health problems, so limiting exposure where possible is ideal.
Most clinics throughout the UK will be able to help you contact any recent sexual partners, whether anonymously or with your details visible.
If you are currently sexually active and aren't in a monogamous relationship, we recommend you have a Chlamydia test at least once a year. Not all cases of chlamydia will have recognisable symptoms, so it's better to take a test and stay safe for both you and any sexual partners.
Anyone who has recently changed sexual partner should also get a chlamydia test to ensure they don't currently have an infection they were unaware of. A chlamydia infection can cause serious complications, so regular testing is highly recommended!