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Chlamydia is the most common STI among young people. This STI is easy to treat. It's important to get something done about it early on. If you don’t treat chlamydia, it may have serious consequences.

What is chlamydia?

Chlamydia are bacteria that can live in the mucous membranes of the genitals (vagina, penis) and the anus. This can cause an infection of the cervix, urethra or anus. Both men and women can get chlamydia. Usually you don’t even notice you’ve got it. 

Chlamydia symptoms

When you have been infected with chlamydia, symptoms may occur within 1-3 weeks. Men usually notice they have chlamydia when they have discharge coming from their penis. It’s often watery and occurs after getting up in the morning (early-morning discharge). Peeing can be painful or give a burning sensation. In women, chlamydia can also cause discharge or irritation when you’re having a pee. Chlamydia can affect your anus too, giving symptoms like itching or pain when you’re having a poo. 

Female symptoms

  • More discharge than normal that may look different
  • Pain or burning sensation when peeing
  • Abnormal blood loss (between 2 periods or after having sex)
  • Pain during and after sex
  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Fever
  • Itching or irritation around the anus
  • Discharge (possibly containing blood) with faeces (poo) or diarrhoea

Male symptoms

  • Discharge from the tip of the penis that might be watery, mostly in the morning
  • Pain or burning sensation when peeing
  • Pain in the scrotum
  • Fever
  • Itching or irritation around the anus
  • Discharge (possibly containing blood) with faeces (poo) or diarrhoea

Chlamydia with no symptoms

Women and girls usually don’t even notice that they have chlamydia. So their chlamydia infection may be left untreated for a long time. A quarter of the men or boys with chlamydia do not have any symptoms. In the meantime, you can pass on the infection without even noticing it. 

Easy to treat!

Chlamydia is easy to treat with a course of antibiotics. So, go to the doctor as soon as you can. Have you had unsafe sex or have you got one or more symptoms? Go to your doctor or a Sense drop-in session.

If men don’t get treatment

The infection can spread to other parts of the body, although this is less likely to happen in men than in women. Bacteria may spread to the prostate and the epididymis through the urethra. This can cause an infection in the prostate or the epididymis:

  • A prostate infection often causes a fever and pain in the lower abdomen.
  • An infection of the epididymis (epididymitis) can give severe pain in the scrotum, sometimes radiating into the groin area. You’ll feel a swelling in the scrotum.
  • Sometimes epididymitis can cause an infection in the testicles. This also causes swelling and pain.
  • Infections of the epididymis and the testicles can make you less fertile. 

If women don’t get treatment

Chlamydia can spread to your fallopian tubes. They may become infected and this infection can spread to your abdominal cavity. An infection of the fallopian tubes may cause a fever. You don’t feel well and have lower abdominal pain. Early treatment (antibiotics and bed rest) can cure a fallopian tube infection completely.  


What if an infection of the fallopian tubes is left untreated, or treated too late? This can cause scar tissue and a tube may become blocked. And this, in turn, can cause infertility or an ectopic pregnancy. Infertility almost never occurs.


If you’re pregnant, you can pass chlamydia on to your baby during the delivery. This may give the baby a serious eye infection or pneumonia. Treatment during pregnancy ensures that the baby is not at risk. 

STI testing

Are you worried about something, or have you had unsafe sex? Then the best thing to do is to have an STI check-up.

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Safe sex

Having safe sex is important when you go further than kissing and caressing or petting. Do you want to make sure you don’t get any STIs or get pregnant? Then always have sex safely.

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Partner notification

Do you have an STI? Warn your partner(s)! Even if you don't have any symptoms. Your partner can have an STI without knowing it and pass it on to others.

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