Chlamydia Symptoms in Men

Reviewed by Ruthann Cunningham, MD, May 23, 2017

Most common symptoms of chlamydia in men

  • No symptoms at all in 50% of infected men

Less common

  • Thick, milky, watery, or yellow discharge from penis
  • Painful urination/ejaculation
  • Rectal pain, discharge, or bleeding
  • Red, inflamed eye
  • Red, inflamed joints

Least common

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Chlamydia does not cause symptoms in half the men who are infected. This is why regular testing and partner notification is so important. Untreated infections can lead to both short and long term complications.

Signs of chlamydia in men usually show up one to three weeks after the initial exposure to the infection. Symptoms are penile discharge (that can be yellow-white, thick, milky, or watery), burning or itching around the penis, and painful urination/ejaculation. The pain and discharge are caused by bacteria inflaming the urethra (the tube that carries urine and ejaculate). Men who receive anal sex can get rectal chlamydia infections and develop rectal pain, discharge, or bleeding.

If left untreated, the infection can spread from the urethra to the epididymis (the tube carrying sperm from the testis), causing pain, swelling, and fever (called epididymitis). In rare cases, prolonged inflammation of the epididymis can lead to infertility in men. Another rare complication of chlamydia that can occur is reactive arthritis (painful swelling of one or more joints). Formerly known as Reiter's Syndrome, reactive arthritis sometimes appears as part of a group of symptoms also affecting the urinary tract and eyes. This can occur days to weeks after a chlamydia infection, whether or not treatment is received.

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