Chlamydia in Women

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

View Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) Slideshow Pictures

Chlamydia Symptoms and Signs

Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted disease (STD). It affects both men and women and, in most cases, does not cause any symptoms. When it does produce symptoms and signs, these may not appear for weeks after your infection. Symptoms in women include:

  • burning with urination and an abnormal vaginal discharge;
  • abdominal or pelvic pain is sometimes present; and
  • blood in the urine, urinary urgency (feeling an urgent need to urinate), and increased urinary frequency can occur if the urethra is infected.

Quick GuideSexually Transmitted Diseases: HPV, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Herpes, HIV

Sexually Transmitted Diseases: HPV, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Herpes, HIV

What is chlamydia?

Chlamydia is the most commonly reported sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the U.S. It is an infection with the bacteria known as Chlamydia trachomatis. Chlamydia is very similar to gonorrhea in its symptoms and pattern of transmission. It is important to note that many people (both women and men) who are infected with chlamydia do not have any symptoms and may not be aware that they have the infection. Chlamydia infection can cause permanent damage to the fallopian tubes in a woman and can lead to future infertility and an increase risk of ectopic pregnancy. Chlamydia infection during pregnancy also increases a woman's risk of preterm labor and of having a baby with low birth weight.

Lymphogranuloma venereum is another type of STD that is common in the developing world and is caused by a different strain of the Chlamydia bacteria.

What causes chlamydia?

Chlamydia is an infection with Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria. When an infection is present, the bacteria can be present in the cervix, urethra, vagina, and rectum of an infected person. It can also live in the throat. Any type of sexual contact (vaginal, anal, or oral) with an infected person can spread the infection.

Young people who are sexually active are at high risk for chlamydia.

An infected mother can also spread the infection to her baby at the time of birth as the baby passes through the vaginal canal. The most common complications of chlamydia acquired through the birth canal are eye damage and pneumonia in the newborn.

Even after a person has been treated for chlamydia, it is possible to get the infection again. With chlamydia, repeat infection is common.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/1/2016

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