The key questions about chlamydia in men
According to 2018 figures from Public Health England, a higher percentage of young men tested positive for chlamydia compared to women. Despite this, the number of young men getting tested was half of the number of women getting testing. We’ve created this article, focussing specifically on chlamydia in men, to answer the key questions surrounding the STI.
What are chlamydia symptoms in men?
There will often be no symptoms of chlamydia in men, with only around half of those infected noticing any signs. If there are symptoms, these will usually develop around one to three weeks following infection. Common signs of the STD include: –
- Pain or a burning sensation whilst urinating
- A cloudy white discharge from the tip of the penis
- Urethritis, which is characterised by pain or itching within the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the body)
- Testicular pain or soreness
These initial symptoms may disappear after a couple of weeks, which often leads people to forget they may be infected. Even when symptoms disappear chlamydia will remain in your body and can be passed on during unprotected sex until you receive effective treatment.
Are men more likely to catch chlamydia?
If you have unprotected sex with someone who has chlamydia, you’re likely to catch the infection regardless of your gender. In this respect there is nothing to suggest that men are more likely to catch chlamydia.
That said, latest figures from 2018 suggest that a higher ratio of young men aged between 15-24 tested positive for chlamydia in comparison to females of the same age. This is despite double the amount of women testing for the condition.
What are the long term complications in men?
Although very rare, chlamydia can affect male fertility. This happens if chlamydia causes the tubes that carry the male sperm (epididymis) to become inflamed.
Although the condition, also known as epididymitis, is treatable with antibiotics it can cause irreversible scarring to the tubes which restricts the flow of sperm. Luckily long term damage like this is rare, but it’s just another reason to get tested for chlamydia regularly.
How is chlamydia in men diagnosed?
There are a wide range of sexual health tests that can diagnose chlamydia in men. Usually this will require a urine sample where the initial flow of urine is examined in a laboratory. You may test for chlamydia on its own or you may wish to perform tests on a number of conditions at the same time.
Some tests, including the Instant Chlamydia Tests available from Your Sexual Health, may require a urethral swab. This is where a thin swab is inserted into the urethra to take a sample of mucous from the area.
If you are at risk of anal or oral infection against chlamydia then you will need a throat swab sample or rectal swab sample to be collected and tested also.
How is chlamydia treated in men?
Both men and women are treated for chlamydia in the same way. This includes an antibiotic treatment which is taken orally, usually in one sitting. The most common treatments are azithromycin (Zithromax) or doxycycline. To avoid reinfection it’s best that your partner also has treatment at the same time. You should abstain from sex for one week following treatment as you can still pass chlamydia on during this time.
Can men catch chlamydia through oral sex?
Whether performing oral sex on a man or a woman, chlamydia can be transmitted through oral sex. In these instances chlamydia will usually cause an infection of the throat. This may cause symptoms including a sore throat, fever or a cold. It’s also possible that someone can be infected within the throat without noticing any symptoms at all.
Although less common, you can also catch chlamydia if you receive oral sex from an infected individual. The symptoms in these instances would be exactly the same as if you caught it through vaginal sex.
Can men catch chlamydia through anal sex?
Whether you’re performing anal sex on a man or a woman there is still a risk of catching chlamydia if the person has a rectal chlamydia infection. Likewise if you receive anal sex from someone who is infected then you may catch rectal chlamydia.
The symptoms of rectal chlamydia are different from chlamydia affecting the penis. Symptoms may include discharge, bleeding and pain in the area. It’s possible to have a chlamydia in both the penis and the anus at the same time.
You can find out more about chlamydia in our advice article on the STI or visit our chlamydia landing page to see more information about our range of tests.