According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 2.86 million chlamydia infections occur annually in the United States; making it the most frequently reported sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the country . And while young sexually active women are typically the affected group, chlamydia can occur in both men and women across all age groups.
Chlamydia is caused by the bacteria chlamydia trachomatis and is contracted through vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the infection. Commonly referred to as the ‘silent infection’, it’s possible not to realize you have the infection as many people don’t experience any signs or symptoms. As a matter of fact, NHS estimate that over half of all men with chlamydia don’t notice any symptoms. If symptoms do show, they can differ for both men and women.
Some common symptoms of chlamydia in men include:
- Painful urination
- Discharge from penis
- Lower abdominal pain
- Testicular pain
- Rectal pain, bleeding, or discharge
What does chlamydia look like on a man?
Early-stage chlamydia typically shows very few noticeable signs or symptoms. In saying that, when they do occur it can include painful urination and testicular pain. You may also notice an unusual discharge from the penis. This discharge is usually white, cloudy, or watery but it can also be thick or more yellow in color.
If chlamydia is left untreated, it can cause complications in men, these include the inflammation of the urethra or the swelling of the epididymis and the testicles.
Urethritis is one of the most common conditions diagnosed and treated among men in sexual health clinics . It occurs when the urethra - the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body, becomes inflamed. Symptoms of urethritis include white or cloudy discharge from the tip of your penis, burning or painful sensation when you pee, and the tip of the penis feeling irritated and sore.
Epididymitis is a swelling and inflammation of the epididymis - the tube which stores and carries sperm. Though this most often occurs due to bacterial infections such as chlamydia, it can sometimes occur when a testicle becomes inflamed . Symptoms of epididymitis include swollen, red, or warm scrotum, testicle pain, and tenderness, painful urination or an urgent or frequent need to urinate, discharge from the penis, or pain or discomfort in the lower abdomen or pelvic area.
Can chlamydia affect the rectum in males?
As well as the genital area, chlamydia can also affect the rectum (in some cases, it can even cause an eye infection). According to the CDC, this usually occurs after having receptive anal sex or by spread from another infected area. Although these infections don’t normally show any signs or symptoms, rectal pain, discharge, and bleeding are all indicators to keep an eye out for.
If you have any of the above symptoms, it’s important to reach out to your health care provider to find out more.
How long does it take for a male to show signs of chlamydia?
If you do experience symptoms, they typically appear after 1-3 weeks after exposure. The NHS note that for some people, they might not notice any signs for a few months after the initial infection.
It’s important to remember that signs and symptoms of chlamydia are not always obvious and even if you do experience an asymptomatic infection, it can still be spread to your partners and can cause potential health problems in the long-term; this is why regularly checking in on your sexual health is so important!
Does chlamydia go away in men?
As a bacterial infection, chlamydia can be treated and cured with the right course of antibiotics. Left untreated, chlamydia symptoms may ease up for a short time but the infection can spread throughout the body and cause future complications.
Remember, if you test positive for chlamydia, your partners will also need to test for chlamydia and receive treatment - even if they’re experiencing no symptoms.
See also: Why its Easy to get Help for an STD
One of the most reliable ways to keep an eye on your sexual health is through regular sexual health screening. This can be done with your doctor or from home with an at-home lab test.
If you’d prefer to get tested for chlamydia from home, LetsGetChecked’s range of at-home STI Tests allows you to do just that. Your online results will be available in just 5 days and our team of dedicated nurses will be on hand to answer any questions you may have. Plus, if you test positive, you will receive a prescription free of charge.
You should also consider taking a test if:
- You become sexually active
- You have had unprotected sex
- You’re experiencing symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection
- You’re entering into a new sexual relationship
- You have received a notification from a previous partner that they are infected (STIs can remain dormant for years and/ or take up to three weeks to become detectable.)