According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), the top most reported STI in the U.S. is chlamydia, with more than 3 million people getting infected every single year, and more than 50 million people infected around the globe. That means that 1 in 20 people carry the infection, so the odds of getting infected are incredibly high.
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Any sexually active individual can get infected with chlamydia no matter how young or old they may be. But, those most vulnerable to the infection are young adults and teenagers from 15 to 24 years old. Here we will focus on how chlamydia affects men, how to recognize the symptoms, and why it’s important to spot them on time.
Typical Symptoms in Males With Chlamydia
This bacteria is often asymptomatic. Around 50% of men don’t experience any signs of infection, and very few actually seek proper medical care. But, those who do experience them should get tested.
The reason for that is simple; it means the individual has been infected for quite some time, and it’s important to seek treatment and get tested as soon as possible. What most men don’t realize is that chlamydia, as well as any other STIs, has an incubation period. So, the moment they are exposed to it, the bacteria will start to manifest in the system and will need 1 to 3 weeks for any symptoms to start to develop.
Some of the most common symptoms of this infection in men are:
- Pain when urinating
- Discharge from the penis
- Itching and burning sensation
- Swollen and painful testicles
Most of these symptoms may not indicate that you are infected with chlamydia; they may be caused by other STIs or any other infection. But, in general, for men, chlamydia symptoms often begin with two complications, and those are epididymitis or urethritis. We will talk about both of these complications and how they can affect the male reproductive organs.
Epididymitis is an infection often caused by chlamydia, and it affects the tube in the testicles responsible for carrying the sperm. Men of all ages can get this infection, and it’s most commonly recognized by the following symptoms:
- Bloody semen
- Red, swollen, or very warm scrotum
- Tender and painful testicles
- Discomfort and pain in the lower abdomen
- Pain when urinating
Urethritis is swelling, and inflammation of the narrow tube in the penis called the urethra responsible for carrying the urine. This infection can cause painful urination and difficulty when urinating. Various chemical irritants, viruses, and bacteria can trigger this infection, but in most cases is caused by chlamydia.
In men, these symptoms include:
- Blood in the semen or urine
- Difficulty when urinating
- Tender, swollen or itching penis
- Increased lymph nodes
Other Symptoms Often Related to Chlamydia
Chlamydia doesn’t only affect the penis; it can also infect the rectum, eyes, and throat. If the bacteria infect the rectum, it can cause rectal pain, bleeding, and discharge. But, if the bacteria gets in contact with the eyes, it can lead to eye inflammation such as conjunctivitis.
Oral sex can spread the infection as well, and in many cases, it can infect the throat. Those infected can experience various symptoms, often associated with a sore throat. Because of how difficult it is to spot some of these symptoms, it’s best to get regularly tested to avoid the bacteria from manifesting any further.
How Is Chlamydia Transmitted in Men?
Any sexual contact, whether it is penetrative anal or vaginal sex, oral sex, or sharing mutual sex toys, can easily transmit the bacteria. When the bacteria has entered the person’s body, it will remain dormant in the system until it fully develops.
Once the first symptoms appear, usually 1 to 3 weeks after exposure, the infected individual may transmit the infection. In many cases, however, those infected can immediately transmit the infection after they’ve been in contact with the bacteria.
But, if a person receives proper treatment, they won’t transmit the infection anymore. In general, seven days after the treatment has begun, the bacteria will no longer transmit to other sexual partners.
What Happens in Males If Chlamydia Is Left Untreated?
For any male who doesn’t get on-time treatment, complications can occur. These complications include tender and swollen testicles and urethral infections.
These are all serious complications that can affect your day-to-day life and can leave a huge impact on your sexual health. Anything that causes inflammation and pain in the penis, rectum, or throat can affect your libido and make it more difficult to enjoy intercourse.
If the infection is transmitted to a female, it can cause infertility, ectopic pregnancy, inflammatory disease in the pelvic area, and multiple problems during childbirth. If men transmit chlamydia to a pregnant woman, this infection can have serious consequences.
When to Contact Your Doctor?
Many people, particularly men, don’t notice any signs of chlamydia. That’s why it’s crucial to go do regular tests when you see a different sexual partner. But, for those who experience any symptoms, like swelling and pain in the scrotal area, it’s crucial not to avoid them.
If the pain is too much to handle, you should seek medical treatment immediately. The only way to know for sure if you are infected is to consult with your doctor and get tested regularly. That way, if you do get infected, you will immediately get proper treatment.
Most men don’t experience any symptoms of a chlamydia infection, but those who do often mistake the bacteria for a different infection. This makes it incredibly difficult to spot chlamydia the moment it enters the system. However, with regular testing and monitoring, this problem can be easily solved and treated.