In most cases, the infection is symptomless. Many women only find out that they have chlamydia after they have experienced problems with conceiving. In many cases men do not have symptoms and can therefore pass on the infection to multiple partners over a period of years not knowing that they are spreading the infection.
Approximately 40% of women who have chlamydia and who do not treat it develop pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID permanently damages female genital organs and therefore impacts upon the fertility of the female.
Women can experience symptoms of chlamydia in the form of cystitis, abnormal vaginal discharge, pain in the lower abdomen and pain when having sex or while passing urine. Women who do not get treated risk having a future ectopic pregnancy. This is where implantation occurs outside of the womb. Often this occurs in the fallopian tube because the fallopian tubes become blocked (salpingitis) as a result of the untreated chlamydia. If a woman is infected while pregnant, this can lead to miscarriage or premature birth.
Men often notice a discharge from the penis and in some cases there is irritation around the tip of the penis as a result but it can disappear after a number of days. This means that when the discomfort is no longer experienced, often men do not get tested and continue to carry and spread the infection. Other symptoms include pain when passing urine. Along with spreading the infection, men who do not get treated may experience swelling of the testes (epididymitis) and in some cases, fertility is affected.
In men and women, conjunctivitis is another symptom of chlamydia and if it does not clear up, it is imperative that a chlamydia test is taken.
In rare cases, Reactive Arthritis develops as a reaction to an infection like chlamydia. Symptoms of this condition will include inflamed joints, urethritis and conjunctivitis. This condition is more likely to be experienced by men however and may be treated with anti-inflammatory medication.