While chlamydia in men is a common STI, it does not have symptoms most times.
A sexually transmitted infection (STI) is a condition passed during sexual contact. You can get an STI during unprotected anal or vaginal sex. Having oral sex with a person that has an STI puts you at risk. The bacteria responsible for the infection is Chlamydia trachomatis.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recorded 1.7 million cases of chlamydia infection in 2017. Anyone can have a chlamydia infection without knowing. Routine screening can detect the disease early. It is necessary for men that have sex with men to screen themselves every 3-6 months.
FloriSense Women’s Vaginal Health Test – OTC Easy to Use Vaginal pH Acidity Test (Including Yeast Infections) – 2 Swabs – Feminine Health Test Kit – Test Before You Treat – Results in Seconds
The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) neither supports/ rejects screening. It believes there isn’t much evidence to reject or support the screening of other sexually active men. If you would like to have a screening, discuss it with your healthcare provider.
How is chlamydia spread?
The spread of chlamydia is through sexual contact. It can spread by touching the penis, mouth, or vagina of an infected person. Transmission of chlamydia occurs with or without the release of sperm. It includes having oral sex, vaginal sex, and anal sex.
Chlamydia infection cannot spread through kissing. However, a person with a throat infection can transmit it during oral sex. The use of barrier methods during sex reduce chlamydia infection. It does this by preventing the exchange of body fluids during sex.
These barrier methods involve using a dental dam, polyurethane, and latex condoms.
The diaphragm is a barrier method that does not effectively block contact. It is not effective in preventing chlamydia infection. Spermicidal lube and other birth control methods do not prevent STI. Mother to child transmission can occur during delivery. Chlamydia can cause lung and eye infections in babies (Pneumonia and conjunctivitis).
Symptoms of chlamydia in men include:
- Frequent urination
- Burning or painful sensation while urinating
- Itching close to the tip of your penis
- Watery or white discharge from your penis etc
Chlamydia in men can affect different parts of the body. They include:
Chlamydia in men can affect the urethra – the tube found inside the penis.
The infection of the urethra causes urethritis, also known as non-gonococcal urethritis.
The common urethritis symptoms in men include:
- Frequent urination
- Burning sensation while urinating
- Itchy feeling at the tip of the penis
- Watery, scanty, white discharge from the penis
If you have urethritis, you may experience all, some, or none of the symptoms listed above.
Chlamydia can affect the epididymis (a coiled tube storing sperm) attached to the back of the testicles. Epididymitis is the infection of the epididymis. It can lead to scrotal swelling and pain on one or both testes.
Chlamydia is one of the organisms thought to cause chronic prostatitis. Chronic prostatitis is long-term inflammation of the prostate gland. The symptoms of prostatitis include:
- Dysuria (painful urination)
- Painful ejaculation
- Inability to hold urine (Urinary incontinence)
- Difficulty urinating
- Pain in the pelvic region
The lymph nodes
Chlamydia trachomatis is a species of bacteria and has several subtypes. Serovars D-K cause most of the earlier symptoms above.
Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) vs Chlamydia in men
Serovars L1, L2, and L3 are responsible for causing lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV). LGV is an STI and genital ulcer disease. The transmission of LGV is the same as chlamydia. LGV affects the lymphatic system and requires a more aggressive treatment than serovars D-K.
The symptoms of LGV in men include:
- Painless ulcers at the point of entry
- The lymph nodes in the groin swell and become painful.
LGV is a genital ulcer disease more in heterosexuals in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. There has since been an outbreak in North America and Western Europe. These outbreaks are more in men sleeping with men and those with HIV infection.
Proctitis is the inflammation of the lining of the rectum. If you engage in anal sex, you have a higher chance of having it. Proctitis caused by serovars D-K is often symptomless. You must check for STI before engaging in anal sex.
Symptoms of proctitis include:
- Rectal pain and discharge
- Rectal bleeding
- Tenesmus (The urge to have a bowel movement)
Chlamydia infection in the throat can lead to pharyngitis. It can cause sore throats in some people.
What are the complications of chlamydia in men?
Chlamydia in men can have several complications if left untreated.
Untreated epididymitis as a result of chlamydia in men can lead to infertility. The two ways it can occur include
- Untreated chlamydia in men can scar the ducts that convey sperm.
- Chlamydia can affect sperm cells by changing their DNA.
A 2017 study showed that chlamydia in men did not affect the sperm DNA nor did it cause infertility.
Proctitis can cause fistula and strictures if not treated. A fistula is an abnormal connection between the skin and the intestine.
Chlamydia in men can cause urethral strictures – narrowing of the lumen. Strictures can lead to painful urination, bloody urine, and straining. The treatment of urethral stricture is through surgery.
Lastly, chlamydia in men can cause reactive arthritis. It occurs in about 1% of men with chlamydia. A patient with reactive arthritis will complain of swelling, pain, stiffness, and redness of the joints.
It can occur in all joints in the body but occurs more in the knees, ankles, and feet. Also, reactive arthritis can cause
- Enthesitis (pain where tendons and ligaments connect to the bone)
- Dactylitis (sausage fingers)
- Low back pain
Chlamydia is responsible for most cases of reactive arthritis. Reactive arthritis is formerly known as Reiter’s syndrome. It is a form of inflammatory arthritis that results from a distant infection. This disease occurs when you come in contact with bacteria.
Some people with arthritis and urethritis later develop conjunctivitis or uveitis. The list of medical triads is Reiter’s syndrome.
Diagnosis of chlamydia in men
Your doctor will perform a series of laboratory tests to diagnose chlamydia infection. These tests include a urine test, urethral discharge culture, and a swab test.
For diagnosis of chlamydia in men, your doctor inserts a thin swab into the tip of your penis. The swab collects a sample from your urethra for review. Afterward, you may need a urethral discharge culture or swab test to rule out gonorrhea. A man that has engaged in anal or oral sex would need a rectal and throat swab sample.
Chlamydia in men treatment: How is chlamydia treated in men?
Antibiotics are paramount in the treatment of chlamydia in men. If you are having symptoms or a positive partner, presumptive treatment will commence before the test result comes back.
The best medication for the treatment of chlamydia in men is a single dose of azithromycin. If the doctor suspects a gonorrhea co-infection, he/she will add ceftriaxone to your treatment. This is usually the case when the treatment is presumptive.
A 7-day course of doxycycline can serve as an alternative. It substitutes the single dose of azithromycin. In cases of epididymitis, a 10-day doxycycline treatment is appropriate. In cases of LGV, a 21-day doxycycline treatment is necessary. Your doctor will decide the treatment option you need.
Chlamydia in men pictures.
Is chlamydia curable?
Fortunately, chlamydia in men is curable. It is easy to treat chlamydia infections once identified. It is necessary to treat both partners at the same time. Drugs can kill chlamydia bacteria. Azithromycin or doxycycline are the preferred treatment options.
Azithromycin requires a single dose, while a seven-day dose of doxycycline is vital. Penicillin does not kill chlamydia bacteria.
Other antibiotics used for the cure of chlamydia include ofloxacin and erythromycin.