Man with chlamydia fever symptoms looking at thermometer

Chlamydia symptoms in men: key points to know

Updated on March 21, 2024. Previously medically reviewed on December 23, 2022 by Lori Mulligan, MPH. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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If you’re experiencing unexpected symptoms that could point to a potential sexually transmitted infection (STI), you might be looking for descriptions of common infections like gonorrhea or chlamydia.

When it comes to chlamydia symptoms, male presentations aren’t always identical to female presentations. So men who think they may have been exposed need to know what a potential infection might look and feel like.

This guide is here to help. Below, we’re exploring the basics of chlamydia, exploring chlamydia symptoms in men, and breaking down possible complications. We’ll also offer a step-by-step process for approaching an STI infection and zoom in on tips for preventing STIs.

Chlamydia 101

Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can impact both men and women. [1] Let’s explore a few basics [1, 2, 3]:

  • Chlamydia is a bacterial infection caused by the Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria. Since it’s a bacterial illness, healthcare providers can treat it with antibiotics.
  • Chlamydia is very common—in fact, it’s the most widely reported bacterial STI in the US. Other bacterial STIs include gonorrhea and syphilis.
  • Chlamydial infection spreads via vaginal, anal, and oral sex. Birthing parents can also spread chlamydia to babies during childbirth. Since anyone can get it, anyone can spread it—you can contract it from sexual partners of any gender.
  • Re-infection is possible. Even if you’ve been treated for chlamydia in the past, you can get it again if you have unprotected sex with someone who has the infection.
  • Unfortunately, sexually active people under 25 are at a higher risk for contracting chlamydia due to both biological and lifestyle factors.

Common Chlamydia Symptoms in Men

One of the reasons why chlamydia is so widespread is because it’s often asymptomatic— many men with chlamydia don't notice any symptoms. [1]

But in symptomatic cases, chlamydia symptoms in males typically manifest as [1]:

  • Discharge from the penis – While vaginal discharge is common in healthy people (making it a complex diagnostic criteria), penile discharge is less common—so, it’s usually a sign that it’s time for a healthcare provider visit even if chlamydia isn’t the cause.
  • Pain while urinating – Like discharge, painful urination isn’t a symptom exclusive to chlamydia. You might also experience an itching or burning sensation during urination.
  • Testicular pain – Though this is a less widely reported symptom of chlamydia, pain in one or both testicles is a possible sign of an infection.

Since these symptoms aren’t exclusive to chlamydia infections, visiting a healthcare provider is critical to correctly diagnosing an STI. We’ll touch on this more in a later section.

Potential Complications

An untreated chlamydia infection can lead to other health problems in men [1]:

  • In rare cases, a chlamydia infection may spread to the testicles and epididymis (tubes that carry sperm from the testicles), which causes them to become painful and swollen. This is known as epididymitis or epididymo-orchitis (inflammation of the testicles).
  • Chlamydia can also sometimes cause reactive arthritis. Reactive arthritis is a condition that causes inflammation in various joints in the body, especially the knees, feet, toes, hips, and ankles. In most cases, it clears up within a few months and causes no long-term problems. Men and women of any age can get it, but it's more common in men and people between the ages of 20 and 40. [4]
  • Men are at risk of infertility due to untreated chlamydia.
  • Chlamydia may increase your risk of contracting HIV, but research on this topic is ongoing.

Untreated chlamydia can lead to a host of major consequences to your health. Luckily, chlamydia treatment is simple and straightforward.

How to Approach A Suspected Case of Chlamydia

You think you might have chlamydia—what now? Here’s a breakdown of what to do if you think you may have an STI.

Step 1: Get Tested

Any time you have unprotected sex, you need to get tested for STIs. [5]

While you can visit your provider to undergo an STI test, you also have the option to test at home. Everlywell offers two at-home test collection kits:

  1. Chlamydia and Gonorrhea kit – This test checks for the sexually transmitted infections chlamydia and gonorrhea.
  2. STI-Male kit – This test checks for six sexually transmitted infections: chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis C, HIV, syphilis, and trichomoniasis.

Testing is the first step to getting the care you need—chlamydia is curable. [1] If you test positive for any STIs, the next step is contacting a provider.

Step 2: Contact A Healthcare Provider

Whether you’ve already received a positive test result or you’re looking to get tested, reaching out to a healthcare provider is a must if you suspect that you have an STI.

Before your appointment, be sure to:

  • Write down your symptoms and vital signs (like temperature and pulse).
  • Explain your symptoms and health history in detail (including any past STIs).
  • Tell your provider about any medication allergies.

The last two tips are especially important. While you might be nervous about explaining your sexual history to your provider, they need as much information as possible to find the correct diagnosis and create a treatment plan that works for you.

And, since a common treatment for chlamydia (and other bacterial STIs) is antibiotics, your provider needs to know if you’re allergic to any medications.

Step 3: Follow Your Treatment Plan to the Letter

The good news is that with a healthy dose of a specific type of antibiotic such as azithromycin or doxycycline (and with accessible STD treatment online), chlamydia infections can be cured with relative ease.

Keep in mind that you’ll have to abstain from sexual activity for a period of 7 days. And if you want to avoid being infected again, you’ll have to make sure your partner is also being treated (more on this in the next section).

Step 4: Contact Your Partner(s)

No matter what your sexual history looks like, you’ll need to contact anyone you’ve had sex with recently if you receive a positive test for chlamydia or any other STIs. This includes:

  • Current partners – Anyone you’ve had sex with recently needs to know that you’ve been exposed to chlamydia—they could have contracted the infection from you.
  • Past partners – Out of an abundance of caution, reach out to anyone you’ve had sexual contact with in the last few months to let them know they may have been exposed to chlamydia. Since the illness can be asymptomatic, it’s hard to know how long you’ve hosted the bacteria (and for how long you’ve been infectious).

It’s also important to reach out to these partners even if you only had protected sex with them. While correct condom use and other measures can help prevent STIs, the only 100% effective prevention method is abstinence; unfortunately, even very safe sex can carry risks. [2]

Tips for STI Prevention

To prevent future STI infections (whether you have an STI or not), consider:

  • Using protection – Condoms and dental dams during sexual intercourse are some of the simplest tools you can use to prevent the spread of STIs and maintain overall sexual health. Used correctly and consistently, barrier methods like these are highly effective.
  • Testing at a reasonable frequency – Taking a test anytime you have a new sexual partner is wise. But, if one of your partners has a new partner, they could expose you to an STI. Talk to your healthcare provider about a practical approach to STI testing that works for your lifestyle.
  • Communicating about testing with partners – To assess your risk before having sex, talk to potential partners about your (and their) recent test results. If a potential partner hasn’t been tested recently, consider asking them to get a test before you partake in any sexual activity. While this might seem impractical, ensuring all of your partners have been tested recently is an excellent way to reduce your risk of exposure to a sexually transmitted disease or infection.

Discover Discreet, At-Home STI Care with Everlywell

Chlamydia can often present without symptoms; but, when symptoms appear, they can cause significant discomfort. Luckily, STI testing and treatment are more accessible than ever before with modern health partners like Everlywell.

Between at-home collection kits for convenient testing and access to telehealth appointments with licensed providers, Everlywell is making it easy for you to get the care you need on your terms. We’re here to help you develop a personalized treatment plan that helps you reach your goals. You may not even need to leave the house to get the care you need.

Ready to discover convenient, discreet, and personalized care? Schedule a virtual care visit now.

  1. Chlamydia infections. MedlinePlus. Medical Citation URL. Accessed March 20, 2024.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Medical Citation URL. Accessed March 20, 2024.
  3. Chlamydia Statistics. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Medical Citation URL. Accessed March 20, 2024.
  4. Reactive Arthritis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Medical Citation URL. Accessed March 20, 2024.
  5. How You Can Prevent Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Medical Citation URL. Accessed March 20, 2024.

Lori Mulligan, MPH is the Director of Science Policy at the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR)/National Institutes of Health (NIH). Lori has 22 years of experience working in the science policy, public policy, and public health fields and has published in the journal Health Promotion Practice. She has experience directly writing or overseeing the writing of Congressional testimony, science advances, strategic plans, publications, and many other forms of health and policy writing.
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