When it comes to sexual health, there’s a sneaky sexually transmitted infection called chlamydia that often goes unnoticed. You might be wondering, “What does chlamydia look like?” Well, here’s the catch—it usually doesn’t come with flashy symptoms you can see. But don’t let that fool you!

In this blog, we uncover the mystery behind chlamydia infections: what it looks like, even if you can’t see it, and why it’s essential to know. By the end, you’ll have the lowdown on chlamydia, understanding more about what’s going on behind the scenes. So, let’s dive in and get to the bottom of this hidden sexually transmitted infection.

How do You Get Chlamydia?

Chlamydia is primarily transmitted through unprotected sexual contact with someone who is already infected. This includes vaginal, oral, or anal sex without using a condom. In rare cases, a newborn baby can contract chlamydia from their mother during childbirth.¹

It’s important to note that you cannot get chlamydia from using toilets, swimming pools, spas, or from everyday contact with people. The infection requires direct sexual contact with an infected person for transmission to occur.

symptoms of chlamydia, disease control, antibiotic treatment

What Do Early Signs of Chlamydia Look Like?

Chlamydia is often called the “silent” infection because it frequently shows no noticeable symptoms, especially in its early stages. However, when chlamydia symptoms do occur, they can vary between men and women. Here’s a breakdown of the early signs of chlamydia:

Early Signs of Chlamydia in Women

  • Change in vaginal discharge
  • Bleeding or spotting between periods or after sex
  • Burning or stinging sensation when urinating
  • Pain during sex
  • Cramps or pain in the lower stomach¹
genital fluids, symptoms of chlamydia, sexually transmitted infection

What Does It Look Like When a Guy Has Chlamydia?

  • Clear or ‘milky’ discharge from the penis
  • Redness at the opening of the penis
  • Burning or stinging sensation when urinating
  • Pain or swelling in one or both testicles¹

Important Note:

  • Asymptomatic Cases: Many people show no symptoms of chlamydia at all, especially in the early stages. Regular screenings and safe sexual practices are essential for early detection.

If you suspect you may have chlamydia or have been exposed to the infection, seek medical attention promptly. Early detection and treatment are key to preventing complications and spreading the infection to others. Plus, you can get your prescription online with Youly – we’ll deliver it to your door. Always practise safe sex, use protection, and communicate openly with your partner about sexual health.

Can You Visually See Chlamydia?

You cannot visually see chlamydia without the aid of laboratory tests. Chlamydia is caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis (find out – can you get chlamydia without sex?), and it typically does not produce visible symptoms in its early stages. Unlike some other infections that may cause visible sores or rashes, chlamydia is often asymptomatic or causes very mild symptoms that go unnoticed.

The only definitive way to diagnose chlamydia is through specific laboratory tests, such as nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs), which detect the genetic material of the bacteria. These tests are usually performed on samples collected from the affected area, such as urine, vaginal swabs (for women), or urethral swabs (for men).

It’s important to note that relying on visual inspection alone is not a reliable method for diagnosing chlamydia or many other sexually transmitted infections. Regular screenings, especially for those who are sexually active or at higher risk, are essential for early detection and treatment. If you suspect you may have chlamydia or any other STI, consult with a healthcare professional for proper testing and guidance.

sexual partners, untreated chlamydia, asymptomatic infection

What Does Female Chlamydia Discharge Look Like?

The appearance of vaginal discharge can vary, and not everyone with chlamydia will experience this symptom. Additionally, changes in vaginal discharge can be caused by various factors or by another condition like thrush, so it’s crucial to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis. If you suspect a possible infection, it’s recommended that you seek medical advice and testing.

That said, if chlamydia does cause changes in vaginal discharge, it might be characterised by:

Unusual Colour

The discharge may appear different from the normal clear or white colour, possibly taking on a yellowish tint.

Unusual Consistency

The texture of the discharge may change, becoming thicker or more watery than usual.

Unpleasant Odour

There might be a noticeable change in the odour of the discharge.

If you suspect a chlamydia infection or experience any changes in your vaginal discharge, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare provider for proper testing, diagnosis, and appropriate treatment. Early detection and treatment are key for managing the infection and preventing potential complications.

Is Chlamydia Discharge Thick or Thin?

Chlamydia discharge, when present, can vary in consistency. It might be thicker or more watery than the usual discharge and exhibit a yellowish tint. However, it’s important to note that changes in discharge are not always a definitive indicator of chlamydia, as other factors can cause them. 

Can a Woman Tell If She Has Chlamydia?

Detecting chlamydia in women can be challenging as the infection is often asymptomatic, especially in its early stages. Unlike some other sexually transmitted diseases, chlamydia doesn’t always manifest visible symptoms. However, if symptoms do occur, women may notice changes in vaginal discharge, such as colour or consistency. Additionally, some women may experience discomfort during urination, pelvic pain, or pain during sexual intercourse. 

These symptoms can be caused by various factors, and relying on them alone is not a reliable method for diagnosis. Regular screenings and testing, especially for sexually active individuals or those at higher risk, are essential for early detection. Given the often subtle nature of chlamydia, consulting with a healthcare professional and undergoing specific laboratory tests is the most accurate way to determine if a woman has a chlamydial infection. 

untreated infection, chlamydia diagnosed, symptoms of chlamydia

Testing for Chlamydia Infections

Testing for sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia is a straightforward and commonly performed procedure. Here’s an overview of how to get tested for STDs like chlamydia:

  1. Consultation with Healthcare Provider: Schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider, such as a doctor or at one of your local sexual health clinics. Discuss your sexual history, any potential exposure to sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and any symptoms you may be experiencing.
  2. Physical Examination (if necessary): A physical examination may be conducted if you are experiencing symptoms, although chlamydia often presents without visible signs.
  3. Sample Collection: The most common method for testing chlamydia involves collecting a sample from the affected area. This may include urine samples, vaginal swabs for women, and urethral swabs for men.
  4. Laboratory Testing: The collected samples are sent to a laboratory for testing. Nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) are commonly used to detect the genetic material of the chlamydia bacteria, providing highly accurate results.
  5. Results and Follow-Up: Results are usually available within a few days. If the test is positive, it means you have a chlamydia infection. Chlamydia treatment typically involves a course of antibiotics prescribed by the healthcare provider.
  6. Partner Notification: If you test positive for chlamydia, it’s essential to inform your recent sexual partners so that they can also get tested and, if necessary, receive treatment.
  7. Follow-Up Testing (if recommended): In some cases, a follow-up test may be recommended to ensure the infection has been successfully treated.
chlamydia treated, disease control, untreated chlamydia

Regular testing for STIs, including chlamydia, is advisable for sexually active individuals, especially those who engage in unprotected sex or have multiple partners. Early detection is essential to treat chlamydia infections, prevent complications associated with untreated chlamydia, and reduce the spread of infections. Always follow the advice of your healthcare provider for the most appropriate testing and treatment plan for your situation.


  1. ‌Health Direct. Chlamydia [Internet]. Healthdirect.gov.au. Healthdirect Australia; 2019. Available from: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/chlamydia