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For Teens: Understanding Chlamydia

Chlamydia is an STD (sexually transmitted disease) that spreads when body fluids are passed during sex. Signs of chlamydia are often absent or hard to notice. So get checked if you think you might have it or could have been exposed to it. Chlamydia can be cured. But if it’s not treated soon enough, it can cause sterility or other problems. This can prevent you from being able to have children or cause other long-lasting health problems.

What to look for

Often, chlamydia causes no symptoms. Chlamydia symptoms, when they occur, may appear within a few days or weeks after you catch it. The symptoms can also change over time. Early on, common signs include:

  • Discharge from the penis, vagina, or rectum

  • Pain or burning during urination

  • Pain or bleeding from the rectum

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding


Chlamydia can be treated and cured with antibiotics. A single dose is often all that’s needed, but sometimes an antibiotic needs to be taken twice each day for 1-3 weeks. Your partners also needs to be treated. Otherwise they can pass the disease back to you. And don’t have sex until you’re told it’s OK.

If you don’t get treated

Chlamydia can spread and cause damage that keeps you from being able to have kids, or it can cause longlasting pain or scarring of the genitals or rectum. Here are some warning signs of that damage:

  • Men can have continued discharge, pain and swelling in the testicles or rectum, and fever.

  • Women can have chronic pelvic pain or abnormal vaginal bleeding, two of the possible signs of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

What is PID?

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection in women. It can cause mild or severe symptoms. These include pain in the lower belly, fever, vaginal discharge, and pain during sex. Over time, PID can damage the reproductive organs and make it difficult or impossible to have children naturally.

Online Medical Reviewer: Barry Zingman MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Donna Freeborn PhD CNM FNP
Date Last Reviewed: 1/1/2017
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