How Chlamydia Symptoms Present in Men

An Often Silent but Common and Curable Sexually Transmitted Disease

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Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted bacterial infection. It is the most frequently reported infectious disease in the United States and is most common in people age 24 years and younger. Chlamydia infections in men often exhibit no symptoms. It is sometimes referred to as a "silent" infection. Men may not know they are infected unless they are tested, or they are notified by their partner of infection.

Learn what symptoms may occur, and problems you can develop from untreated chlamydia.

Symptoms of Chlamydia in Men

Only about 10 percent of infected men have symptoms of chlamydia infection. Symptoms of chlamydia, when present, show up one to three weeks or longer after exposure. Chlamydia can infect the urethra, rectum, throat, and eyes. It can be passed on to a partner through vaginal, anal, or oral sex.

  • Discharge from penis that is greenish-yellow, thick, cloudy or watery
  • Painful urination and/or ejaculation
  • Rectal discharge, pain or bleeding
  • Increase in frequency of urination
  • Inflammation and pain in the testicles
  • Burning and itching around the opening of the penis
  • Sore throat
  • Inflamed and irritated eyes (from contact with genital secretions)

Most women also have no symptoms, with only up to 30 percent reporting any. Women's signs and symptoms of chlamydia may include an increase in vaginal discharge, pain on passing urine and the need to go more frequently, lower abdominal pain and irregular bleeding.

Tests for Chlamydia

Chlamydia is diagnosed by either a urine test or by taking a swab sample from a site such as the penis (for men) or the cervix (for women).

Treatment for Chlamydia

Chlamydia infections are easily treated with antibiotics. It is important if you have chlamydia that you abstain from sexual intercourse until you and your sexual partner(s) have completed treatment.

If you do not, you are likely to get re-infected. It is important to take your entire course of medication to ensure the infection is fully treated.

Reinfection is common. You do not develop immunity to chlamydia once you have had it, you can catch it again and again.

Problems of Untreated Chlamydia

Untreated chlamydia increases your chances of acquiring or transmitting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

If untreated, chlamydia does not often lead to long-term problems in men. However, it can lead to epididymitis, which is the inflammation of tubes in the testicles causing pain, fever, and swelling. Left untreated, epididymitis can cause lasting harm, including infertility. In some rare cases, untreated chlamydia can lead to reactive arthritis (painful swelling of the joints).

Untreated chlamydia in women can be more dangerous. Chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease resulting, in some cases, in infertility. Women can also suffer long-term pelvic pain. Untreated infection during pregnancy is associated with ectopic pregnancy and premature delivery.

Chlamydia and Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Prevention

Practice safer sex by using latex condoms to reduce your risk of getting chlamydia.

It is estimated that 1 in 20 sexually active young women aged 14 to 24 years has chlamydia. Among men who have sex with men, between three and 10 percent have a rectal chlamydia infection and between 0.5 percent and 2.3 percent have a throat infection of chlamydia. These people can pass the infection to their partners through vaginal, oral, or anal sex.


Chlamydia—CDC Fact Sheet (Detailed). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.