Symptoms of chlamydia
Chlamydia is often difficult to detect because early infections often cause little to no signs and symptoms. Even when signs and symptoms of chlamydia do occur, they're often mild and passing and easy to overlook. When signs or symptoms of chlamydia do occur, they usually begin 1-3 weeks after exposure. Signs and symptoms of chlamydia infection for both men and women may include:
Symptoms of chlamydia in men
Men experiencing chlamydia may be asymptomatic (without symptoms) or symptoms may be minor. When men do experience symptoms of chlamydia, they may experience one or more of the following:
Symptoms of chlamydia in women
Most women do not experience any symptoms or signs of a chlamydia infection. In fact, if symptoms are present they are usually minor and may include vaginal discharge and/or a burning sensation during urination. If the infection spreads to the fallopian tubes, women may notice the following symptoms:
The asymptomatic signs of chlamydia are problematic for two major reasons. First, people who don't know they are infected can keep on infecting other people. Second, if it isn't diagnosed and treated, chlamydia can cause more serious health problems. Some common complications that are a result of untreated chlamydia include:
Chronic pelvic pain - Untreated chlamydia may lead to chronic pelvic pain in women.
Epididymitis - A chlamydia infection can inflame the epididymis, a coiled tube located above each testicle, which may result in fever, scrotal pain and swelling.
Ectopic pregnancy – Untreated chlamdial infections can lead to a pregnancy outside the uterine cavity. This occurs during inflammation of the adhesions that bridge the lining of the fallopian tube. As inflammation appears, it causes thinning of the lumen, blocking the passage of the eggs (ovum).
Eye infections - Eye infections may result when genital discharge or infectious secretions travel into the eye during sex or hand-to-eye contact. Left untreated, the eye infection can result in blindness.
Infections in newborns - The chlamydia infection can cause premature birth or may be passed from the vaginal canal to a child during delivery, causing breathing problems, pneumonia, an eye infection or eventually blindness.
Infertility - Scarring in the fallopian tubes caused by chlamydia infection may lead to infertility.
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) - PID is a generic term for infection of the uterus and fallopian tubes or for inflammatory disorders of the upper genital tract, including endometritis and tubo-ovarian abscess. PID can damage the fallopian tubes, ovaries and uterus, including the cervix. Untreated PID can lead to abscesses in the fallopian tubes and ovaries.
Prostatitis - The chlamydia bacteria can spread to the prostate gland and cause swelling.
Rectal inflammation – Chlamydia bacteria can cause rectal inflammation and can result in rectal pain and mucus discharge.
When to seek help
Young, sexually active and unmarried men and women should be screened for chlamydia yearly. Anyone who manifests symptoms of chlamydia should get medical advice, evaluation, and treatment right away. Anyone found to be infected should inform all sex partners and be sure they get treated, too. All women should be screened for chlamydia as part of routine prenatal care. Reasons to be screen for chlamydia include:
See your doctor if you experience discharge from the vagina or penis, pain during urination, or notice other signs and symptoms of chlamydia. Also see a doctor or ophthalmologist if you experience frequent eye-infections that don’t heal. Itchiness or redness of the conjunctiva, and/or hyper production of tears of the eyes might be signs of chlamydia. Also, see your doctor if a sexual partner reveals that s/he has been diagnosed with chlamydia, even if you have no symptoms. Symptoms may not occur until several weeks after infection, or may not occur at all. See a doctor if you notice:
It's important to treat chlamydia before the infection leads to other health problems. But how do doctors test for chlamydia? Will one test confirm or exclude a possible diagnosis? Continue here for more information on how to test for chlamydia in men.
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