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Chlamydial Infection in Men

What is chlamydial infection?

Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted infection. Men often do not know they have chlamydia because they may not have any symptoms. However, chlamydia can be passed to female or male partners and can cause severe infections and problems.

How does it occur?

Bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis cause the infection. The infection is usually passed from person to person during oral, vaginal, or anal sex.

In men chlamydia usually infects the urethra. The urethra is the tube that carries urine and semen out of the penis. Infection of the urethra is called urethritis.

Chlamydia may also infect the epididymis or prostate gland. The epididymis is a coiled tube attached to the testicle. It stores and carries sperm. The prostate is a gland at the base of the penis. Infection of the epididymis is called epididymitis. Prostate infection is called prostatitis.

The anus and rectum may also be infected if you have anal intercourse. An infection in this area is called proctitis.

What are the symptoms?

Often there are no symptoms, especially early in the infection. When it causes symptoms, they may include:

  • discharge from the penis
  • burning or other discomfort when you urinate
  • pain in the testicle
  • pain during or after sex
  • lower back pain
  • irritation around the anus
  • pain when you have a bowel movement.

Sometimes infections of the prostate or epididymis are sudden and severe. These infections may cause fever or other symptoms of illness. These sudden illnesses with fever need prompt medical attention.

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and examine you. Depending on your sexual history and your symptoms, you may have one or more of the following tests:

  • a test of fluid from the opening of the urethra
  • a urine test
  • a swab of the area around the anus.

Lab tests help your provider know what is causing the infection and which antibiotic will work best.

How is it treated?

Antibiotics usually cure the infection. You may need to take more than 1 antibiotic, especially if there is a chance you have other infections, such as gonorrhea. Your sexual partner or partners should also have treatment even if they don't have any symptoms. Discuss this with your healthcare provider.

Cases of chlamydia are required by law to be reported to the local health department. The clinic staff will ask about people with whom you have had sexual contact. These people will then be told that they have had contact with someone who has chlamydia. This can help protect them against the infection. (Your name will not be given.) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) follows these infections so they can find epidemics in the early stages. This allows the CDC to take steps to prevent new infections and to get as many people as possible checked and treated.

How long will the effects last?

The symptoms of urethritis usually are gone a few days after you start taking the antibiotic. The symptoms of epididymitis and prostatitis may take several more days to go away completely. Treatment for prostatitis may need up to 4 weeks of antibiotic treatment.

It is very important to kill all of the chlamydia. Take your medicine for as long as it is prescribed, even if your symptoms are gone before you finish taking it.

If you keep having symptoms despite the antibiotics, tell your healthcare provider. It is especially important to tell your provider if any symptoms come back after you finish taking the antibiotic.

Chlamydia can cause infertility. This means you may have trouble having children. The risk is greatest if you have an infection for weeks or months without treatment.

How can I take care of myself?

  • Follow the full treatment prescribed by your healthcare provider. This includes taking your medicine for as long as it is prescribed, even if your symptoms are gone before you have finished taking it.
  • Take aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen to reduce pain.
  • Follow your healthcare provider's instructions for follow-up visits and tests. Your provider will need to make sure that the infection is gone.
  • Tell everyone with whom you have had sex in the last 3 months about your infection. Or you can ask the clinic staff to tell them. Your sexual contacts need to be treated even if they don't have any symptoms. Do not have sex until both you and your partner have finished all of the medicine and your provider says it's OK.
  • Call your healthcare provider right away if:
    • You have severe pain in your belly or back.
    • You have trouble urinating or increased pain when you urinate.
    • You vomit and cannot keep the medicine down.
    • You have a fever over 101.5°F (38.6°C).
    • You feel you are getting sicker rather than better.
    • Your symptoms come back after you have finished taking the antibiotic.

How can I help prevent chlamydial infection?

  • Lower the risk of infection by always using latex or polyurethane condoms during foreplay and vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse.
  • Have just 1 sexual partner who is not sexually active with anyone else. Make sure your partner has been tested for chlamydia and other sexually transmitted diseases.
  • If you have had sex without a condom and are worried that you may have been infected, see your healthcare provider even if you don't have symptoms.
  • If you have been sexually assaulted and are at risk of having been infected, you should be treated to prevent chlamydia and other infections.

Disclaimer: This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information provided is intended to be informative and educational and is not a replacement for professional medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.

HIA File infd4503.htm Release 13/2010

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