Infection rates of this common sexually transmitted disease are decreasing, but young women are still disproportionately affected. It is treated with antibiotics, but resistance is becoming a concern.

Chlamydia Overview

Reviewed: May 15, 2014

Chlamydia is a common, curable, sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by bacteria. Both men and women can get chlamydia during oral, vaginal, or anal sex with an infected partner. Chlamydia is the most frequently reported bacterial STD in the United States.

Most people infected with chlamydia have no symptoms. If it does, symptoms might include a burning feeling when you urinate or abnormal discharge from your vagina or penis.

In both men and women, chlamydia can infect the urinary tract. In women, infection of the reproductive system can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID can cause infertility or serious problems with pregnancy. Babies born to infected mothers can get eye infections and pneumonia from chlamydia. In men, chlamydia can infect the epididymis, the tube that carries sperm. This can cause pain, fever, and, rarely, infertility.

A lab test can tell if you have chlamydia. Antibiotics will cure the infection. Correct usage of latex condoms greatly reduces, but does not eliminate, the risk of catching or spreading chlamydia. Experts recommend that sexually active women 25 and younger get a chlamydia test every year.

Chlamydia Symptoms

Most people with chlamydia have no symptoms, or they may not appear until several weeks after sex with an infected partner. 

Women with symptoms may notice an abnormal vaginal discharge or a burning sensation upon urination.

Symptoms in men can include discharge from the penis, a burning sensation upon urination, or testicular pain and swelling.

Chlamydia infection can also cause inflammation of your rectum and lining of your eye (conjunctivitis or "pink eye"). The bacteria can infect your throat if you have oral sexual contact with an infected partner.

Even when chlamydia causes no symptoms, it can damage your reproductive system.


Chlamydia Causes

Chlamydia is caused by bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis.

Chlamydia Diagnosis

There are laboratory tests to diagnose chlamydia. Your health care provider may ask you to collect a urine sample or may collect a fluid sample from your vagina to test for chlamydia


Chlamydia Treatments

Chlamydia can be treated with antibiotics such as azithromycin (taken for one day) or doxycycline (taken for 7 days).

It is important that you take all of the prescribed antibiotic, even after symptoms go away. If symptoms do not go away within 1 or 2 weeks after finishing your antibiotics, see your health care provider.

Your partner(s) should be tested and treated, if necessary.

You should not have sex until treatment is completed.

Chlamydia Prognosis

Chlamydia can be cured with antibiotics. It is important that you take all of the medication your doctor prescribes to cure your infection. When taken properly it will stop the infection and could decrease your chances of having complications later on. Medication for chlamydia should not be shared with anyone.

Repeat infection with chlamydia is common. You should be tested again about three months after you are treated, even if your sex partner(s) was treated.