Chlamydia and gonorrhea are two of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and although they share similarities, it’s important to diagnose and treat them accurately. 

Keep reading to learn more about the symptoms of chlamydia vs. gonorrhea and how to treat both infections.

What's the difference between chlamydia and gonorrhea?

Both gonorrhea and chlamydia are spread via sexual contact, including:

  • vaginal sex
  • oral sex
  • anal sex.

The main difference between chlamydia and gonorrhea is that two different bacteria cause them. While they’re both caused by an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the body, chlamydia is caused by Chlamydia trachomatis, and Neisseria gonorrhoeae causes gonorrhea.  

Because two different pathogens cause them, the treatment for chlamydia and gonorrhea varies, too (more on that below).

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Symptoms of chlamydia vs gonorrhea

Both chlamydia and gonorrhea are often asymptomatic (meaning you have no symptoms), making them both hard to detect. When symptoms are present, they can be similar for chlamydia and gonorrhea can be similar, making it tricky to tell them apart — but there are some key differences. 

Chlamydia symptoms can include: 

Symptoms of gonorrhea can include: 

  • green or yellow vaginal discharge
  • burning or discomfort while peeing (dysuria) or having sex (dyspareunia)
  • pain or tenderness in the lower belly
  • vaginal bleeding between periods.

Even if you don't have any symptoms, you could still have chlamydia or gonorrhea. It can be tricky to figure out if you have these sexually transmitted diseases based on symptoms alone. That's why doing an STI screening is important to get correctly diagnosed and treated.

Infographic: Symptoms comparison chart of Chlamydia vs Gonorrhea vs Trich

Vaginal discharge of chlamydia vs gonorrhea

Although they both cause abnormal vaginal discharge, the discharge caused by chlamydia vs gonorrhea is slightly different. 

Chlamydia is usually associated with white or yellowish discharge that has a strong or unpleasant smell, while gonorrhea discharge is generally thin or watery and green or yellow in color.

Keep in mind that it’s normal for the color and consistency of your discharge to fluctuate throughout your cycle, so not every change is cause for concern. However, vaginal discharge that is unusual for your body can be your body’s way of telling you that something’s up down there. 

I tested negative for chlamydia and gonorrhea but still have symptoms

Many symptoms of chlamydia and gonorrhea can be signs of something else, like a yeast infection, UTI, or bacterial vaginosis (BV). 

It’s always a good idea to visit your healthcare provider if you start experiencing pain, discomfort, or unusual vaginal discharge.

How to determine chlamydia vs gonorrhea

Both chlamydia and gonorrhea can be diagnosed using similar methods. Your healthcare provider will perform a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) to check for the bacteria that cause chlamydia or gonorrhea. 

This test involves taking a vaginal swab or urine sample, which can be done in a clinic or from the comfort and privacy of your home with the Evvy Vaginal Health test with the Expanded PCR Panel add-on.

Getting tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea during regular health check-ups is a great way to stay on top of your sexual health, especially for women. Undiagnosed and untreated STIs can cause long-term complications like pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and infertility, so it's best to catch them early. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that sexually active women under 25, women who are pregnant, or those at a higher risk of getting an STI, should have yearly STI screenings. Risk factors for contracting chlamydia and gonorrhea include:

  • Being under 25
  • Having sex with a new partner
  • Having multiple sexual partners
  • Having had chlamydia or gonorrhea in the past.

Chlamydia and gonorrhea treatment

Although both STIs will go away with antibiotics, the treatment for chlamydia and gonorrhea differs slightly. 

The most commonly prescribed oral antibiotics for chlamydia are doxycycline and azithromycin. Doxycycline is taken for seven days, while azithromycin is taken as a single dose. If you're pregnant, azithromycin is the recommended option.

Treatment for gonorrhea is slightly different. Because of emerging strains of drug-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the CDC recommends treating gonorrhea with a single intramuscular injection of the antibiotic ceftriaxone

For eligible testers, Evvy’s Clinical Care can provide treatment for chlamydia and gonorrhea. 

Can metronidazole treat chlamydia and gonorrhea?

No. Metronidazole is an antibiotic used to treat BV but won’t clear up a sexually transmitted infection like chlamydia or gonorrhea.


How can you tell the difference between gonorrhea and chlamydia?

Because they share a lot of symptoms (like pain and unusual discharge), chlamydia and gonorrhea can often be confused. The best way to tell them apart is to do an STI test and screen for the different bacteria that cause chlamydia and gonorrhea. 

Which is more serious, gonorrhea or chlamydia?

Any sexually transmitted infection should be taken seriously. Untreated gonorrhea and chlamydia infections can result in pelvic inflammatory disease, chronic pelvic pain, ectopic pregnancy, and infertility, especially for women and AFAB people. Untreated chlamydia and gonorrhea infections can also increase your risk of developing reactive arthritis and contracting HIV.

Can you have chlamydia and gonorrhea at the same time

We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but yes, it's possible to have more than one sexually transmitted disease (STD) at the same time. Both chlamydia and gonorrhea are spread through sexual contact, and unfortunately, they’re not mutually exclusive.