Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that is notorious for its lack of symptoms – especially in women. The infection is caused by bacteria called chlamydia trachomatis, and in up to half of the cases of confirmed chlamydia, an infected person will report no symptoms. When there are symptoms associated with a chlamydia infection, they tend to be very difficult to spot, often occur only very occasionally, and must commonly occur only in men. However, if left untreated, chlamydia infections can lead to infertility in both men and women. With men in particular, the risk of these complications tends to be widely underestimated, even sometimes by the medical establishment.
In women, with very few exceptions, one of the few ways to determine if there is a chlamydia infection present is to get tested. In men however, there are a few subtle signs and symptoms that may point to an infection. While some of these symptoms may seem random, if you are a man experiencing any of these symptoms and are sexually active, it is wise to get tested.
Within one to three weeks of exposure
After an initial infection with chlamydia, men who have contracted the infection might expect to see symptoms starting to appear within one to three weeks. Symptoms of exposure from vaginal or anal sex might include the following:
- A discharge from the tip of the penis (sometimes cloudy or whitish)
- Swelling and soreness in the testicles
- Pressure, pain, or burning during urination
It is important for men to understand that you can also get symptoms of chlamydia from other types of sex, like anal or oral sex. Some of the symptoms associated with a chlamydia infection from oral or anal sex include the following:
- Pain and swelling around the rectum
- Pain during defecation
- Sore or swollen throat
- Swelling and discharge from the eyes (a condition called conjunctivitis)
If you have chlamydia but don’t get treated
A chlamydia infection in men affects the integrity of the DNA of a man’s sperm, making it prone to breakage. The sperm of men who are infected with chlamydia are also up to 80% more malformed and less mobile than those of a non-infected man. All of these factors lessen the chances of successful fertilisation should an infected man and his partner try to conceive a child.
Chronic, long-term infection with chlamydia has also been linked to such conditions as chronic urethritis (a painful, long-term inflammation of the urinary tract), and certain types of arthritis.
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