Chlamydia Symptoms in Women

Reviewed by Ruthann Cunningham, MD, May 23, 2017

Most common

  • No symptoms at all in 50% of infected women

Less common

  • Thick, milky, watery, or yellow discharge from vagina
  • Pain or burning with urination
  • Bleeding after sex or between periods

Least common

  • Pelvic pain and/or low back pain
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Pain during sex
  • Sore throat
  • Rectal pain, discharge, or bleeding
  • Red, inflamed eye and/or red inflamed joints

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Chlamydia is "silent"—or does not produce any symptoms—in almost half of women who are infected. This means that most women will not find out about their infection unless they get tested. For this reason, many cases of chlamydia in women are undetected and untreated, which can lead to complications for women with the infection and their partners.

Signs of chlamydia in women usually appear up one to three weeks after the initial exposure to the infection through either unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex. Symptoms of chlamydia are: vaginal discharge (that can be yellow-white, thick, milky, or watery), burning or pain with urination, and bleeding between periods. These symptoms are due to cervical inflammation caused by bacteria. Women may also get rectal and throat chlamydia infections but these are less common.

Long-term complications of chlamydia in women

Long-term complications of chlamydia infection include pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID is a condition that can be caused by both chlamydia and gonorrhea, and can cause lower abdominal pain, fever, and in some cases, infertility (the inability to bear children) This requires hospitalization and intravenous (IV) antibiotics and sometimes surgery. 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.

Testing is quick and easy, generally only requiring a urine sample. Chlamydial infections are easily treated with oral antibiotics.

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