What Is Chlamydial
Urethritis in Men?
Chlamydial urethritis in men is an infection of the urethra
caused by the sexually transmitted disease (STD) chlamydia. The urethra carries
urine from the bladder, through the penis, to the outside of the body.
This condition often causes swelling and inflammation of the
urethra, accompanied by penile discharge. But as with many STDs, men often don’t
show symptoms. An infected person and all recent and current sexual partners
must receive treatment for STDs to prevent reinfection.
Causes of Chlamydial
The bacteria Chlamydia
trachomatis causes chlamydial urethritis. It’s spread through oral, anal, and
vaginal sex. Both men and women can develop this common type of infection. According
to the American Sexual Health
Association (ASHA), there are about 3 million new cases of
chlamydia per year, and many of those cases are in adolescents and young adults.
People who have unprotected sex with multiple partners are
more likely to contract chlamydial urethritis than those who practice safe sex
and are in a monogamous relationship. Sexually active people under the age of
24 are also more likely to contract STDs in general, including chlamydia,
according to the Mayo Clinic.
Symptoms of Chlamydial Urethritis in
Men with chlamydial urethritis may not show symptoms at all,
or they may only start to show symptoms several weeks after exposure to the
bacteria. Symptoms of chlamydia and the related inflammation of the urethra
usually occur between one and three weeks after exposure to Chlamydia
The signs of infection include:
- pain or burning during urination
- itching, redness, or swelling of the head of the
penis or urethral opening
- discharge from the penis, which is usually
yellowish or beige
- painful, swollen testicles
The urethra becomes inflamed during infection, making
urinating more difficult. Discomfort in the penis is generally limited to the
tip, where the urethra ends.
Symptoms of chlamydial urethritis in men can mimic the
symptoms of gonorrhea. Gonorrhea and chlamydia infections often occur at the
same time, and infected persons may require treatment for both STDs.
Urethritis in Men
Your doctor will perform a series of lab tests to diagnose
chlamydial urethritis. You’ll be asked to give a urine sample, which will be
tested for the presence of the chlamydia organism.
You may also need a urethral discharge culture, or swab
test, to rule out gonorrhea. Gonorrhea symptoms often look like the symptoms of
chlamydia, and it’s possible to have both at the same time. A technician will
swab the head of your penis with alcohol or another sterile agent. Next, the
technician or your doctor will insert a cotton swab into your urethra at the
tip of your penis. The discharge or fluids collected will be analyzed to
determine the cause of your infection.
Treatment of Chlamydial
diagnosed with chlamydial urethritis, you and any of your sexual partners must
be treated with antibiotics. It’s important for your partners to receive
treatment, even if they don’t show signs of an infection. This helps prevent
reinfection. Without proper treatment, sexual partners may continue to pass the
bacteria back and forth.
Several antibiotics can eliminate chlamydial urethritis,
In most cases, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics for
five to 10 days. But the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that a higher dose (1
gram) of azithromycin taken once may also be an effective treatment.
Most infections will resolve within a week or two. It’s
important that you abstain from sexual activity for at least seven days after
completing a course of antibiotics to prevent reinfection.
Complications of Chlamydial
Urethritis in Men
It’s important to seek treatment for STDs as soon as
symptoms occur. Untreated infections can spread and lead to more serious health
complications in men, including:
- infection and pain near the testicles
- infection of the prostate gland
- infertility or sterility
- stricture, which is a narrowing of the urethra due
to inflammation or infection
Men often don’t show signs of infection right away. Regular
screenings for STDs can diagnose STDs even if no symptoms are present. This is
especially important when changing partners or if you’ve multiple sexual
How to Prevent Chlamydial
Men who are sexually active can prevent STDs with safe sex
practices. Male and female condoms can greatly reduce the spread of infection.
Make sure you use a new condom for each sexual encounter. Regular screenings
for STDs, including HIV, are important for anyone who is sexually active, and
especially for those with multiple partners.