Chlamydia in Women: Symptoms, Causes & Treatments

Picture of Chlamydia in Women


What is Chlamydia?

Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the U.S. This infection is easily spread because it often causes no symptoms and may be unknowingly passed to sexual partners. In fact, about 75% of infections in women and 50% in men are without symptoms.

How Do I Know if you have Chlamydia?

It is not easy to tell if you are infected with chlamydia since symptoms are not always apparent. But when they do occur, they are usually noticeable within one to three weeks of contact and can include the following:

Chlamydia symptoms in women

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge that may have an odor
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Painful periods
  • Abdominal pain with fever
  • Pain when having sex
  • Itching or burning in or around the vagina
  • Pain when urinating

Chlamydia symptoms in men

  • Small amounts of clear or cloudy discharge from the tip of the penis
  • Painful urination
  • Burning and itching around the opening of the penis
  • Pain and swelling around the testicles

What causes chlamydia?

Chlamydia is an infection with Chlamydia trachomatisbacteria. When an infection is present, the bacteria can be present in the cervix, urethra, vagina, and rectum of an infected person. It can also live in the throat. Any type of sexual contact (vaginal, anal, or oral) with an infected person can spread the infection.

Young people who are sexually active are at high risk for chlamydia.

An infected mother can also spread the infection to her baby at the time of birth as the baby passes through the vaginal canal. The most common complications of chlamydia acquired through the birth canal are eye damage and pneumonia in the newborn.

Chlamydia in the rectum, throat or eyes

Chlamydia can also infect:

  • the rectum (back passage) if you have unprotected anal sex this can cause discomfort and discharge from your rectum
  • the throat if you have unprotected oral sex this is uncommon and usually causes no symptoms
  • the eyes if they come into contact with infected semen or vaginal fluid  this can cause eye redness, pain and discharge(conjunctivitis)

Is There a Treatment for Chlamydia?

Yes. Chlamydia is easy to treat. If you have chlamydia, you will need to take antibiotics. One type of chlamydia treatment is taken in one dose. Other kinds of chlamydia treatment must be taken for seven days. Your health care provider can help you decide which is the best treatment for you.

Both you and your partner must be treated for chlamydia before you have sex again. That way you can avoid becoming infected again. Some health care providers will give you antibiotics to take home to your partner. They may tell you to be re-tested for chlamydia in 3 to 4 months.

If you are treated for chlamydia, or any other sexually transmitted disease or infection, remember

  • Take all of the prescribed medicine. Even if the symptoms go away, the infection may still be in your body until the chlamydia treatment is complete.
  • Make sure your partner(s) is/are treated before having sex again so you don’t infect each other.
  • Do not share your medicine with anyone.
  • Get tested again after three months to make sure the infection is gone.

Prognosis of Chlamydia

Antibiotic treatment almost always works if you and your partner take the medicines as directed.

If chlamydia spreads into your uterus, it can cause scarring and make it harder for you to get pregnant. You can help prevent this by:

  • Finishing your antibiotics when you are treated
  • Making sure your sexual partners also take antibiotics
  • Talking to your health care provider about being tested for chlamydia and seeing your health care provider if you have symptoms
  • Wearing condoms and practicing safe sex