What is chlamydia?
Chlamydia trachomatis is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. It is caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis and is spread through intimate sexual contact. Symptoms can be mild to severe, but most people have no symptoms at all. This makes chlamydia very easy to spread. Your risk of getting chlamydia is greater if you have a new sexual partner or have more than one sexual partner.

What are the symptoms of chlamydia?

Up to 90% of women have no symptoms. Of those who do, the most common symptoms include:

  • Increased vaginal discharge
  • Pain or burning with urination
  • Pain during sex
  • Abdominal pain
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding

Up to 70% of men have no symptoms. Of those who do, the most common symptoms include:

  • Pain or burning with urination
  • Penile discharge
  • Burning and itching around the opening of the penis
  • Pain or tenderness of the testicles

Receptive Anal Sex:

  • Rectal pain
  • Discharge
  • Bleeding

How is chlamydia diagnosed?

Chlamydia can be diagnosed through a urine sample, vaginal swab, urethral swab, or rectal swab. Oral chlamydial infection is rare. It is recommended that sexually active women under the age of 25 be screened annually. If you or your partner test positive for Chlamydia, you should be tested for other sexually transmitted infections including gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV.

Why treat chlamydia?
If untreated, chlamydia can lead to serious infections:


  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) can develop in up to 30% of untreated women. PID can cause scarring of the fallopian tubes and result in infertility and an increased risk for ectopic pregnancy.  More than one million women are treated yearly for PID.
  • Pregnancy complications include miscarriage and premature birth. Chlamydia can also be passed to the newborn resulting in infection of the eyes (conjunctivitis) and pneumonia.


  • Inflammation of the spermatic ducts (epididymitis) which can result scarring and infertility.

Males and Females:

  • Reiter’s Syndrome – joint pain, inflammation of the eyes, and sores on the skin.

How is chlamydia treated?
Oral antibiotics are an effective treatment for chlamydia. A single dose of azithromycin is the first line treatment. A seven day course of doxycycline can be used in people who are allergic to azithromycin. Expedited partner therapy (EPT) is recommended for sexual partners from the previous 60 days. This means sexual partners can be offered treatment without being tested for the disease or being seen by a clinician. EPT is not routinely recommended for men who have sex with men.

When is it safe to become sexually active again?
Once you and your partner are treated, do not have sex for seven days. If you are treated with a single dose of azithromycin wait seven days before becoming sexually active again. If you receive the seven day course of doxycycline, wait until the treatment is completed before becoming sexually active. It is possible to infected with chlamydia more than once. The most common reason is a failure to treat sexual partners.

Do I need to be re-tested?
Yes. It is recommended to be re-tested for Chlamydia three months after completing treatment. This is to test for re-infection as there is increased risk from untreated sexual partners.

How can chlamydia be prevented?

  • Use barrier protection every time.
  • Limit your number of sexual partners. Multiple partners increase your chance of infection.