What Are the Stages of Chlamydia?

Many people who have chlamydia don't notice any signs or symptoms, even at later stages. If you do notice symptoms, these may include a discharge or a burning feeling when using the toilet. If chlamydia is left untreated in women, it can seriously damage her reproductive organs.

A Common Sexually Transmitted Disease

Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. Chlamydia can be transmitted during vaginal, anal or oral sex and can affect both men and women.

Chlamydia is very simple to treat and cure with a short course of antibiotics. It's recommended to take the treatment as soon as you know you have the infection.

Most people who have chlamydia have no symptoms. Women who do have symptoms may notice an abnormal vaginal discharge or a burning sensation when urinating.

Symptoms in men can include a discharge from their penis, a burning sensation when urinating or pain and swelling in one or both testicles (although this is less common).

Men and women can also get infected with chlamydia in their rectum, either by having receptive anal sex, or through the infection spreading from another infected site (such as the vagina). While these infections often cause no symptoms, they can cause rectal pain, discharge or bleeding.

If chlamydia is left untreated, it can damage a woman's reproductive organs. The infection can spread into the uterus or fallopian tubes and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). This happens in about 10 to 15 percent of women with untreated chlamydia. Pelvic inflammatory disease can result in serious complications (including infertility, ectopic pregnancy and long-term abdominal pain).

In men, serious complications are rare.

You should be examined by your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms or if your partner has an STD (or symptoms of an STD).

More on Chlamydia at TheBody.com

To find out more about chlamydia, we recommend the following articles:

In addition, our Q&A experts sometimes address questions about chlamydia in our "Ask the Experts" forums. Here are some of those questions and our experts' responses:

  • Chlamydia concerns despite protected sex
    I had sex for the first time -- oral and vaginal, with a prostitute. We used a condom, but now I'm going to the bathroom a lot and feel pressure "down there." Could it be chlamydia? Could HIV be transmitted with it?
  • Lack of chlamydia treatment access
    Where I'm currently working, I have no access to doctor care or medications beyond what I have on hand already. How should I approach chlamydia treatment?