What is Chlamydia? Causes Symptoms and Treatment

What is Chlamydia infection

Chlamydia Causes Symptoms and Treatment

What is Chlamydia infection?

Chlamydia (хламидиоз, الكلاميديا) is a sexually transmitted bacterial infectious disease (STI) caused by infection with Chlamydia trachomatis, a pathogenic gram negative bacteria in the genus Chlamydia. It’s considered a silent disease because symptoms are not expressed in early stages.

chlamydia urethral and vaginal discharge

Chlamydia trachomatis may cause pharyngitis, urethritis, proctitis, cervicitis, pid, arthritis, sepsis and skin infection.


clinical features of chlamydia infection

Pathogen – Chlamydia trachomatis.


How do you get chlamydia?

The source of infection:

In most cases, chlamydia is caught from other humans (sick people and pathogen carriers).

Mechanism of transmission:

How can chlamydia be transmitted?

Chlamydia trachomatis is usually transmitted by means of contact with infected semen or vaginal fluid, through unprotected vaginal, oral, or anal sex, and by vertical transmission of Chlamydia trachomatis from an infected mother to her child. Moreover, chlamydia trachomatis can also be passed to the eye by means of contact with infected penile or vaginal discharge.

When an infection is present, the bacteria can be present in the throat, urethra, cervix, vagina, and rectum of an infected individual.

How long does it take for a person to get chlamydia?

The incubation period for chlamydia ranges from 2 to 30 days.

Chlamydia is characterized by an acute onset, symptoms usually develop suddenly and get worse overtime. However, chlamydia is considered a silent disease because symptoms are not loudly expressed in early stages. In most cases, symptoms usually appear one to three weeks after sexual contact with an infected person.

Around 50 percent of men and about 66 percent of women with chlamydia are asymptomatic or they will have mild symptoms, and because of this, chlamydia can go undetected and untreated.

Tests can detect chlamydia a few days after sexual contact with an infected person, often before appearance of symptoms; however, testing at 2 weeks can give you a good indication of your health status.

How serious is chlamydia?

If left untreated, chlamydia can spread into the female’s genital tract, where it can lead to PID (Pelvic inflammatory disease) in a period ranging from 2 days to 3 weeks. In most cases, symptoms may show up 7 to 21 days after infection (after initial exposure). Chlamydial PID is a serious complication of chlamydia, which can cause permanent tissue and organ damage and can lead to serious gynecological problems such as: chronic pelvic pain, infertility and can increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy.

Women with chlamydia genitalis often develop endometritis and salpingitis as the infection ascends from the cervix. Chlamydial PID is characterized by pelvic or lower abdominal pain with cervical motion tenderness or uterine or adnexal tenderness at exam. However, upper genital tract infection may be asymptomatic as well.

About 20% of women with untreated or partially treated chlamydia develop PID.

20% of women with endometritis and salpingitis develop infertility after symptomatic PID of any cause.

Where does the bacteria that causes chlamydia come from?

Chlamydia is the major cause of std infections in North America and globally, affecting both genders equally, although females report the condition more often than men. Chlamydia is named named after the causative agent, Chlamydia trachomatis. The disease is very common among people ages 14-25.

chlamydia distribution in usa

131 million new cases of chlamydia genitalis occur annually

Chlamydia trachomatis also causes trachoma and is a leading infectious cause of blindness worldwide, especially in endemic areas, mostly Africa, Yemen, and in Australian aboriginal communities.

Can chlamydia remain dormant?

Chlamydia can lie dormant in synovial tissue of patients for many years causing an undetected chlamydia infection. However, the dormant form of chlamydia could potentially flare up to cause an symptomatic infection, especially in patients with weakened immune systems due to cancers, viral infections or other severe illnesses.

Can you have chlamydia and not know?

Chlamydia is considered a silent disease because symptoms are not loudly expressed in early stages. Symptoms may not show up until several weeks after intercourse with an infected partner. In most cases, urethral discharge and dysuria are the earliest symptoms of chlamydia infection. It especially important to get tested if you think you have an STD because if left untreated, asymptomatic chlamysial infection can damage your reproductive system.

How do you get chlamydia without being sexually active?

Apart from neonatal chlamydial infection you can not catch chlamydia without intercourse. However, ocular chlamydial infection can be transmitted without penetrative sex through hand to eye contact by touching your eyes with hands or objects that are contaminated with infected fluids.


What are the symptoms of chlamydia infection in women?

Symptoms of chlamydia in women include:

  1. Dysuria or a burning sensation with urination
  2. Abnormal vaginal discharge (bloody, brown, yellow or green) with an unpleasant smell
  3. Spotting or discharge between periods (bloody or brown)
  4. Lower abdominal pain
  5. Pelvic pain that radiates to the abdomen is sometimes present
  6. Tender inguinal or femoral lymphadenopathy that is typically unilateral
  7. Hematuria or blood in the urine
  8. Unilateral pink eye from hand to eye contact with contaminated objects
  9. Urinary urgency, feeling an urgent need to urinate
  10. Foul smelling urine, or pee that has a strong odor
  11. Urethritis with increased urinary frequency
  12. Lower back or flank pain
  13. Urge to urinate
  14. Dyspareunia or painful sexual intercourse
  15. Low grade fever

Chlamydia discharge color

What are the symptoms of chlamydia infection in men?

Chlamydia symptoms in men include:

  1. Dysuria or burning sensation during urination.
  2. Cloudy or watery penile discharge (white, yellow or green), a cloudy yellowish penile discharge from the tip of the penis, especially in the morning
  3. Meatus glued up in morning with a thick greenish drop of urethral discharge
  4. Slight redness of meatus due to inflammation and irritation
  5. Lower abdominal pain
  6. Testicular pain and pain around the testicles due to epididymo-orchitis and orchitis, chlamydia causes epididymo-orchitis in about 1 in 5 cases
  7. Painful ejaculation
  8. Low grade fever
  9. Chlamydial Conjunctivitis (pink eye), unilateral red eye from hand-to-eye contact with contaminated objects due to poor personal hygiene and for not taking precautions

chlamydial conjunctivitis


What is the cause of chlamydia?

Chlamydia is a bacterial infection caused by infection with Chlamydia trachomatis, a pathogenic gram negative bacteria in the genus Chlamydia.

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection that can be passed on from one person to another through sexual contact (vaginal, anal, or oral).

Chlamydia trachomatis infects epithelial cells at mucosal surfaces, and for this reason, the bacteria are usually found in the throat, urethra, cervix, vagina, and rectum of an infected individual.

chlamydial pharyngitis


How to diagnose chlamydia?

To decide whether Chlamydia trachomatis is present in your body, your doctor will obtain samples to examine them.

How do you get tested for chlamydia?

Tests include:

A standard STD panel is a test package, in which blood and urine samples are obtained to check for common STDs. This standard STD panel tests for chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, herpes and HIV.

An early morning urine sample is obtained to check for the presence of Chlamydia trachomatis.

How soon can you get tested for chlamydia and how accurate is a chlamydia test?

For accurate results, doctors recommend waiting 2-14 days after unprotected sexual intercourse before taking this standard STD panel test.

It is recommended to wait few days after unprotected sex before getting tested to get rid of false negative test results, as most results are accurate after 2-6 weeks. And for this reason, doctors may suggest getting tested 14 days after sex.

How long does it take for chlamydia to show up positive on a test?

Chlamydia can show up on the test 2-14 days after exposure, often before you have symptoms; however, for absolute accuracy a test 2 weeks after unprotected sex is best.

When to retest for chlamydia after treatment?

Retesting 3-4 weeks after treatment or 90 days after a diagnosis of chlamydia to ensure that the infection has been cured. Get retested again 3 months after treatment to make sure the infection did not reappear.

Can chlamydia be detected in a blood test?

Blood testing for chlamydia is not recommended; however, a CBC is usually done to detect an infection

A urine sample is required to test for chlamydia. Do not urinate for 2-3 hours before doing the test.

A swab test is a non invasive procedure, in which a sample of fluid is obtained from the urethra, cervix or vagina to check for the presence of Chlamydia trachomatis.

In males, a sample of fluid is obtained from the urethra, urethral swabs are done to test for the presence of C. trachomatis.

In females, a swab is used to obtain a sample of fluid from the vagina or cervix, cervical or vaginal swab specimens are collected to test for common STDs, such as chlamydia, candidiasis, bacterial vaginosis and trichomonas vaginalis. This can be done during a routine Pap test.

postive swab test

Make sure not to perform a vaginal douche and not to use vaginal applications or creams for at least 24 hours before doing the test.


Is Chlamydia Curable and how to treat chlamydia infection?

Though it’s a curable sexually transmitted disease affecting both genders, chlamydia is often asymptomatic and goes untreated. However, if left untreated, chlamydia can lead to serious consequences in women including chronic pelvic pain, infertility, etc.

The recommended first line treatment for chlamydia is a combination of multivitamins and oral antibiotics. Adults with chlamydia are treated with either a single 1-g dose of azithromycin (Zithromax, Zmax) orally, or doxycycline (Monodox, Vibramycin, others) at a dosage of 100 mg orally twice per day for seven days, this helps treat any chlamydia infection (it is common for people to get both infections together). Alternatively, erythromycin base (or erythromycin ethylsuccinate) at a dosage of 500 mg orally four times a day for 7 days or 500 mg of amoxicillin orally three times per day for 7 days are used to treat chlamydia infection in pregnant women.

If you have chlamydia, your sexual partner(s) should be tested and treated even if he or she has no symptoms. Both you and your partner(s) should be given treatment at the same time to prevent reinfection and further spread of the disease. With treatment, chlamydia infection should clear up in about a week or two. Abstain from sex for 7 days after the start of treatment, as might still be contagious for one week after the start of treatment.

What medication is used to treat chlamydia?

The following antibiotics are commonly prescribed to treat chlamydia infection:

  1. Azithromycin – 1g single dose (two or four tablets at once).
  2. Doxycycline – 500 mg tablets two times a day for a week.


How to Prevent Chlamydia?

You can help to prevent the spread of chlamydia by:

  1. Avoid having a lot of sexual partners
  2. Not sharing sex toys
  3. Avoid polyamory and casual sex
  4. Use a new condom every time you have sex
  5. If you’ve got an STD, inform your partner(s) and abstain from sex for 7 days after the start of treatment
  6. Get tested for STDs regularly

How can I avoid getting chlamydia

How can I avoid getting chlamydia?





Verified by: Dr.Diab (December 19, 2023)

Citation: Dr.Diab. (December 19, 2023). What is Chlamydia? Causes Symptoms and Treatment. Medcoi Journal of Medicine, 37(2). urn:medcoi:article17716.

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