Chlamydia vs Herpes: Similarities, Differences, Treatment, More

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Chlamydia and herpes are some of the most commonly transferred STDs today. Estimates reveal that 1 out of 20 women between the ages of 14-24 who are sexually active will have chlamydia. This article highlights the similarities and contrast between chlamydia vs herpes. Read on to learn more.

Genital herpes is also common in the U.S., where around 11.9% of all people aged between 14 to 49 years old have the condition. Unfortunately, anyone who is sexually active will be at risk of getting any of these STDs.

While condoms can be an excellent way to prevent contracting an STD, they don’t work 100%, so if you are sexually active, you should test for STDs regularly.

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What Are Chlamydia and Herpes?

Both chlamydia and genital herpes are categorized as sexually transmitted infections. Still, the main difference is that chlamydia comes from a bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis, while a herpes simplex virus causes herpes.

Chlamydia vs Herpes: Differences

There are a few vital differences between these two sexually transmitted infections (STIs), which are listed below.


This common STI may leave its victims asymptomatic because it is a silent infection. As such, those with the condition may not always see or feel any symptoms related to chlamydia. Chlamydia is present inside vaginal fluids or infected semen and can be transferred from a mother to her baby during childbirth.

It can also be transferred by sharing sex toys with an infected partner who has chlamydia, even if they don’t exhibit any symptoms of being affected.


Genital herpes is another common STI that usually presents through genital pain and sores. It spreads through skin-to-skin contact during oral (which can lead to oral herpes or cold sores), vaginal, or anal sex.

Unlike chlamydia, herpes can be self-diagnosed because it will often have apparent symptoms, but the condition is chronic, which means it can last for years or even for life. While treatment may help ease the symptoms that come with it, this medical condition currently has no cure.

Chlamydia vs Herpes Symptoms

Below are a few symptoms that patients may notice if they have genital herpes or chlamydia.

Chlamydia Symptoms

When the patient is not asymptomatic, they may notice a few worrisome symptoms, such as:

  • Pain while having sexual intercourse
  • A burning sensation while they pee
  • Swollen or tender testicles
  • A pungent odor within their vaginal discharge
  • Spotting and bleeding in between periods
  • Yellowish vaginal discharge
  • Pain in the lower belly
  • Milky or watery discharge or pus coming from the penis

Herpes Symptoms

Because herpes will have noticeable signs and symptoms, patients can detect their conditions early and get treated for the following problem areas:

  • Itching and irritation around the genitals or the anal area
  • Raw, red, or cracked areas around the genitals that are painful, itching, or tingling
  • Headaches and back pain
  • Flu-like symptoms that include fever, swollen lymph nodes, and fatigue

Other signs that give away herpes include small blisters that result in painful sores once they break open. Usually found around the buttocks, thighs, and rectal area, these can also be found inside the urethra — the tube where urine can travel through to leave the body — although this happens rarely.

When this happens, there will be accompanying difficulty and pain when peeing while sores are present; it’s a typical problem in women.

Can Chlamydia Turn Into Herpes?

If a patient leaves chlamydia untreated, it won’t turn into herpes because they are two entirely different infections. However, as listed below, it can cause many complications for both men and women.

For women, leaving chlamydia untreated may lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which is a condition that may cause infertility and permanent damage to a woman’s reproductive system.

When left untreated in men, chlamydia can lead to various complications, including prostatitis, epididymitis, and male chlamydial urethritis.

Luckily, screening and diagnosing chlamydia is relatively easy, and there are various tests individuals can take, including:

A urine test, where the urine sample is tested inside a lab to look for traces of chlamydia.

A swab test is practical for women and involves taking a swab of a woman’s cervix discharge to be used in culture testing or antigen testing. This is done in place of a routine Pap test — some patients prefer to do the swab themselves, while others prefer doctor-obtained swabs.

For men, a doctor will typically put a thin swab inside the end of the penis to get a sample from the urethra that will allow them to check for the infection.

Can You Get Chlamydia From Herpes?

Again, because herpes and chlamydia are from two entirely different pathogens, herpes won’t be able to turn into chlamydia. Even so, herpes can be painful if left untreated but won’t cause serious sexual health problems, unlike other STDs.

A patient could get regular outbreaks if they neglect treatment. Other times they may not happen, and some people may stop getting episodes naturally. The good news is that herpes usually won’t get worse as time goes on. Below are a few ways to get tested for herpes.

A blood test, where a blood sample is used to detect the presence of herpes infection

Viral culture tests, done by taking a tissue sample from a sore for examination in a lab

A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, which involves taking blood samples or spinal fluid to copy DNA, which is then tested to determine a herpes infection

Can You Get Chlamydia and Herpes at the Same Time?

Individuals who have sexual intercourse with someone infected with an STI are at risk of getting the same infection, which increases in chance if a condom isn’t used during sex. Even if an individual already has a different STI, they can still get herpes or chlamydia.

Those who suspect they may have multiple STIs should get STD tests frequently to catch infections as they arise, which will help them effectively treat each one. However, because many STIs will have similar symptoms, it can be challenging to know whether someone has multiple STIs or just one.

Unfortunately, many STIs are asymptomatic a lot of the time. As mentioned, chlamydia only shows symptoms in 25% of women and 50% of men on average. Therefore, individuals may not know whether they have chlamydia without getting tested regularly when transitioning between partners.

key difference between chlamydia vs herpes

Does Herpes Medication Cure Chlamydia?

No. Treatment and medication for herpes and chlamydia are different. Below is an outline of these differences.

Chlamydia Treatment

You can cure chlamydia by using antibacterial drugs and treatment. A doctor will require a urine sample or a swab test around the genital area which will be used to test for the infection.

Commonly prescribed drugs to help combat chlamydia are ofloxacin, erythromycin, azithromycin, doxycycline, and levofloxacin. Before determining the proper treatment for a patient, they will look through their medical history and consider their current lifestyle.

Even if an individual is cured, they can still contract chlamydia again if they aren’t careful.

Herpes Treatment

A physician can help determine the suitable treatment options for a patient with herpes. However, the essential part of treating herpes is eating healthy food, getting enough sleep, and limiting the spread of the infection through touch.

Options such as Valtrex may be able to slow herpes while helping the body to better fight against the virus. A great antiviral cream is Acyclovir, which can also boost the body’s resistance to infection.

The sooner an individual takes these medications, the sooner they’ll be able to get pain relief from the various symptoms associated with herpes.

Can Chlamydia Cause a False Positive Herpes Test?

As already covered in the sections above, tests for herpes and chlamydia are entirely different from each other, so there’s no chance that the two infections will overlap. However, there are times when a false positive test can show that a person may have a condition or disease when they don’t have one.

This can happen for many diagnostic tests for STIs, but getting a false positive test for herpes is higher than testing for gonorrhea or chlamydia. This is because current tests for herpes aren’t exact, unlike tests for gonorrhea and chlamydia.


Chlamydia is an STD commonly transmitted through infection from Chlamydia trachomatis, causing proctitis and urethritis in both women and men, as well as cervicitis in women. Ignoring symptoms of chlamydia can result in dire consequences such as chronic pelvic pain, ectopic pregnancy, tubal factor infertility, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

Herpes is another kind of STD that’s caused by the herpes simplex virus. It’s currently incurable. Luckily, even if herpes is left untreated, it won’t cause serious harm to the body, but neglecting to get treatment can lead to outbreaks.

Both chlamydia and herpes have their own sets of causes and symptoms, so one can’t lead to another. In addition, different treatments and drugs are available for herpes and chlamydia, so the treatment for one can’t be used for the other.

When To See a Doctor

Those experiencing an STI for the first time may not know the signs that show when it’s time to seek a doctor. When it comes to herpes, You should report any symptom to a healthcare provider or doctor.

Some symptoms to look for include the following:

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Other symptoms related to a herpes outbreak

While chlamydia can be asymptomatic, a few symptoms that patients can look for include:

  • Pain when urinating
  • Discharge from the penis, vagina, or rectum
  • Having a partner with chlamydia

A doctor can prescribe patients antibiotics even if they don’t show symptoms.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Below are some of the most asked questions regarding chlamydia vs herpes.

While a bacterial infection causes chlamydia, herpes is caused by a viral infection, both of which affect men and women. However, even when chlamydia is a common STI, it may not always present patients with symptoms and will often leave them thinking they are healthy.

However, chlamydia can cause severe patient complications if left untreated, so it’s imperative to get checked regularly to detect the presence of chlamydia. Herpes, on the other hand, will not cause any immediate or severe threats, but once an individual has herpes, it’s a lifetime disease.

Herpes also comes in two variants — HSV1 and HSV2 — both of which can infect the buttocks, genital area, thighs, and mouth (this shouldn’t be confused with canker sores). It’s also passed through sexual contact but can be managed by medications. People with herpes should take precautions to prevent passing the disease on to sexual partners.

Fortunately, most STDs and STIs can only be transmitted through sexual contact. However, there are a few circumstances where an STD is passed on through oral means, such as this example. According to the victim, she contracted chlamydia in her lungs by smoking and vaping a “bad cart.”

However, this situation is improbable since STDs are usually spread from sexual contact — even if they were to be transmitted orally, they would need to be done directly, such as mouth-to-mouth. Herpes can commonly spread this way. While chlamydia can also be transmitted orally, the infection must be located in that area.

Even if a person doesn’t have sexual intercourse, there are other ways in which they can become affected. Below are the following ways in which chlamydia infection can spread.

  • Sharing unwashed sex toys or toys that aren’t covered with a new condom every time it’s used
  • Genitals coming into contact with infected genitals means that chlamydia can be passed on without ejaculation, penetration, or an orgasm
  • Spreading from an infected woman to her baby during pregnancy
  • Transmitted through contact with infected vaginal fluid or semen
  • Unprotected oral, anal, or vaginal sex

However, chlamydia can’t be passed on through usual contact such as hugging, kissing, or sharing towels, baths, toilet seats, swimming pools, or cutlery.

A woman infected with chlamydia will notice a change in the consistency, color, and appearance of their vaginal discharge. They may also have more discharge than usual, and the discharge may have a yellow coloration instead of a regular clear and watery appearance.

Chlamydia may also change the usual appearance of discharge, making it milky and thick. It also has a strong odor and other symptoms like bleeding, burning, and pelvic pain. According to some women, the smell of the discharge emitted by chlamydia can be foul smelling, like fish, or similar to how pus smells.

While You can usually find herpes around sensitive areas such as the buttocks, anal region, and groin, it can also be contracted around the mouth due to oral sex.

However, a yeast infection known as vaginal candidiasis can only occur around the vagina, the vaginal opening, and surrounding areas.

Women are especially prone to yeast infections when under birth control pills and during pregnancy since these factors can influence the body’s hormones. While herpes is a viral infection, yeast infections are fungal and cause discomfort and pain around the affected areas. In addition, they are known to cause sensitivity, itching, and soreness.

The body naturally produces yeast as it offers support to the digestive system along with other functions of the body. Once the body’s hormonal balance is thrown off, infections can occur, but yeast infections won’t usually need medical treatment unless there are complications.

While it doesn’t often happen, indulging in sexual activities such as sucking the breasts or nipples may expose an individual to discharge or secretions of the breast. In addition, STIs may spread much quicker when the skin is damaged than when the skin is intact. The chances that an individual acquires sexually transmitted diseases aren’t high when engaging in nipple-sucking.

However, it’s not entirely impossible when an individual is exposed to a partner with damaged skin around the breasts.

The content on Doctor Alexa’s blog is reviewed by Advanced practice registered nurses or pharmacist and is intended for educational purposes only. This information should not be relied upon as professional medical counsel. Be sure to always consult with your physician about the dangers and benefits of any medication, treatment or procedure.

You shouldn’t wait to see the doctor for simple health needs.