What Can Happen If Chlamydia Isnt Treated
Untreated chlamydia can put your health at risk. Make an appointment with your provider immediately if you notice any symptoms of chlamydia, and get regular STI screenings to avoid complications later.
Complications of chlamydia for people with vaginas
Untreated chlamydia can cause:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease . PID is a serious condition that requires hospitalization. It can occur when an untreated STI, like chlamydia, damages your reproductive organs. PID can lead to infertility and chronic pelvic pain. It can also cause an ectopic pregnancy, which is life-threatening for the fetus and potentially deadly for the mother or gestational parent, too.
- Pregnancy complications. An untreated infection can lead to pre-term delivery. Also, if youre pregnant and have chlamydia, you can pass the infection on to your newborn. Babies born with chlamydia may have pneumonia or conjunctivitis that could lead to blindness if not treated.
Complications of chlamydia for people with penises
Untreated chlamydia can cause:
- Epididymitis. Infection can spread to the testicles and the tube that carries sperm to your testicles , causing symptoms like pain, swelling and tenderness in your testicles.
- Reduced fertility. Chlamydia can harm your sperm, negatively impacting your ability to conceive.
Complications of chlamydia that can affect all genders
Untreated chlamydia can:
How Is Chlamydia Transmitted
Newborn babies can acquire chlamydia from their mother during birth. Most prenatal testing includes a chlamydia test, but it doesnt hurt to double-check with an OB-GYN during the first prenatal checkup.
A chlamydia infection in the eye can occur through oral or genital contact with the eyes, but this isnt common.
- bleeding from this area
Having oral sex with someone who has the infection raises the risk of getting chlamydia in the throat. Symptoms can include a sore throat, cough, or fever. Its also possible to carry bacteria in the throat and not know it.
Chlamydia Cdc Fact Sheet
Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted disease that can be easily cured. If left untreated, chlamydia can make it difficult for a woman to get pregnant.
Basic Fact Sheet | Detailed Version
Basic fact sheets are presented in plain language for individuals with general questions about sexually transmitted diseases. The content here can be syndicated .
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What Happens If I Get Chlamydia When I’m Pregnant
- Chlamydia during pregnancy has been associated in very rare cases with problems such as premature birth, and infection of the uterus lining after the birth.
- It can be passed to the baby during the birth and before the baby is born. This can cause inflammation and discharge in the babys eye and/or pneumonia.
- You may be offered a chlamydia test as part of your antenatal care.
- Chlamydia can be treated with antibiotics when youre pregnant and when youre breastfeeding. The antibiotics wont harm the baby, but do tell the doctor or nurse that youre pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Youll be advised to have another test after you complete your treatment.
How Does Chlamydia Affect A Pregnant Person And Their Baby
In newborns, untreated chlamydia can cause:
- ophthalmia neonatorum ,
Prospective studies show that chlamydial conjunctivitis and pneumonia occur in 18-44% and 3-16%, respectively, of infants born to those with chlamydia. 9-12 Neonatal prophylaxis against gonococcal conjunctivitis routinely performed at birth does not effectively prevent chlamydial conjunctivitis.37-39
- All pregnant people under age 25 and
- All pregnant people 25 years and older at increased risk for chlamydia .
Retest those with infection four weeks and three months after they complete treatment.40
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Male Complications Of Untreated Chlamydia
These are just some of the most common complications of untreated chlamydia, which is why its important to get medical attention right away. Most people who get treatment quickly have no long-term medical problems.
How Did I Get Chlamydia If I Didnt Cheat
A note from Cleveland Clinic
It can be embarrassing to talk about anything sex-related with your healthcare provider, including STI prevention. But your sex life is an important part of your health that your provider needs to know about to care for you. Not getting the treatment you need for chlamydia can pose serious risks to your health. Speak with your provider about getting regularly screened for chlamydia and other STIs to reduce your risks of complications. Practice safer sex to prevent the spread of chlamydia.
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How Do People Get Chlamydia
Pregnant people can give chlamydia to their baby during childbirth. This can cause ophthalmia neonatorum or pneumonia in some infants.9-12 Rectal or genital infection can persist one year or longer in infants infected at birth.13 However, sexual abuse should be a consideration among young children with vaginal, urethral, or rectal infection beyond the neonatal period.
People treated for chlamydia can get the infection again if they have sex with a person with chlamydia.14
How Do You Get Chlamydia
Rarely, you can get chlamydia by touching your eye if you have infected fluids on your hand. Chlamydia can also be spread to a baby during birth if the mother has it.
Chlamydia isnt spread through casual contact, so you CANT get chlamydia from sharing food or drinks, kissing, hugging, holding hands, coughing, sneezing, or sitting on the toilet.
Using condoms and/or dental dams every time you have sex is the best way to help prevent chlamydia.
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Preventing The Spread Of Infection
It is absolutely necessary to inform the partner if you get a positive test for Chlamydia. The sooner the partner is told the more effective and simple the treatment can be. Make sure your partner gets tested and receives the treatment as well and abstain from the intercourse until the treatment of both you and the partner is finished.
Getting A Medical Diagnosis
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What Bacteria Does Azithromycin Treat
Azithromycin is a broad-spectrum macrolide antibiotic with bacteriostatic activity against many Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria including Bordetella pertussis and Legionella species. It also has activity against Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Treponema pallidum, Chlamydia species and Mycobacterium avium complex.
Essential Facts About Chlamydia
Chlamydia often causes no symptoms in the short term, but it can have serious health consequences if it goes untreated.
David M Phillips/Getty Images
If youre sexually active, you should know about chlamydia, a common sexually transmitted bacterial infection. These 10 facts will bring you up to speed on whos at risk, why regular screening is so important, and how to avoid getting chlamydia and other sexually transmitted infections .
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How Often Should I Get Checked For Chlamydia
Sexual health check-ups are recommended for anyone who is sexually active. Frequency of testing also depends on your STI risk:
- An annual sexual health check-up is highly recommended if you are sexually active especially if you are under 25.
- Get checked more often during the year if you frequently change sexual partners.
- Remember, you are at greater risk if you have sex without a condom with 1 or multiple sexual partners.
Special Cases: Chlamydia In Infants And Hiv
Newborn infants are also at risk for chlamydial infections if their mother has an untreated infection at the time of delivery. Newborn infants can contract chlamydia trachomatis as they travel through the birth canal and develop eye infections or pneumonia . For this reason, chlamydia testing should be routine during pregnancy.
Having an STI, like chlamydia, can also increase your chances of contracting HIV if you are exposed it to it, or spreading HIV if you are already infected . If you think you have chlamydia, or any STI, it is important for you to seek help immediately from your healthcare provider or an STI clinic. Many clinics provide free or low-cost STI testing. This will all help keep you, your sexual partners, and your community healthy.
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Article was originally published on June 11, 2018.
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Chlamydia Is Only Contagious From Person To Person
You can only get chlamydia by having intimate sexual contact with an infected person, not from casual contact, touching another persons clothing, or consuming contaminated food or water.
The chlamydia organism lives only in human cells and cannot be transmitted by external contact, such as towels or toilet seats, Schaffir says.
Untreated Chlamydia In Men
Untreated Chlamydia can lead to infertility in men by interfering with the sperm count and also abnormalities with genetic material. It causes damage to the sperms and causes scarring of the reproductive tract and may lead to permanent infertility. Men infected with Chlamydia have shown sperms with 80% more physical abnormalities and 10% less motility in 10%. Also males infected with Chlamydia are at increased risk of developing rheumatological conditions, conjunctivitis, urethritis , epididymitis and sexually acquired reactive arthritis . Reactive arthritis causes inflammation of the joints, eyes and urethra. There is no cure of SARA, but it improves over a period of few months and is symptomatically treated with NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen.
Thus, one should avoid high risk sexual behavior and should follow up regularly with a doctor for STD testing, and if detected positive should complete antibiotic course.
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What Does A Chlamydia Test Involve
- You may be asked to provide a urine sample. Before having this test, youre advised not to pass urine for 12 hours.
- A doctor or nurse may take a swab from the entrance of the urethra .
- If you have symptoms of conjunctivitis swabs will be used to collect a sample of discharge from your eye.
A swab looks a bit like a cotton bud but is smaller and rounded. It sometimes has a small plastic loop on the end rather than a cotton tip. Its wiped over the parts of the body that could be infected. This only takes a few seconds and isnt painful, though it may be uncomfortable for a moment.
Cervical screening and routine blood tests dont detect chlamydia.
If youre not sure whether youve been tested for chlamydia, just ask.
When To Seek Medical Advice
If you have any symptoms of chlamydia, visit your GP, community contraceptive service or local genitourinary medicine clinic as soon as possible.
You should also get tested if you don’t have any symptoms but are concerned you could have a sexually transmitted infection .
If you’re a woman, sexually active and under 25 in England, it’s recommended that you have a chlamydia test once a year, and when you have sex with new or casual partners.
If you’re a man, sexually active and under 25 in England, it’s recommended that you have a chlamydia test once a year if you are not using condoms with new or casual partners.
Read more about chlamydia diagnosis.
Page last reviewed: 01 September 2021 Next review due: 01 September 2024
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How Common Is Chlamydia
CDC estimates that there were four million chlamydial infections in 2018.3 Chlamydia is also the most frequently reported bacterial sexually transmitted infection in the United States.4 It is difficult to account for many cases of chlamydia. Most people with the infection have no symptoms and do not seek testing. Chlamydia is most common among young people. Two-thirds of new chlamydial infections occur among youth aged 15-24 years.3 Estimates show that 1 in 20 sexually active young women aged 14-24 years has chlamydia.5
Disparities persist among racial and ethnic minority groups. In 2020, chlamydia rates for African Americans/Blacks were six times that of Whites.4 Chlamydia is also common among MSM. Among MSM screened for rectal chlamydial infection, positivity ranges from 3.0% to 10.5%.6,7 Among MSM screened for pharyngeal chlamydial infection, positivity has ranges from 0.5% to 2.3%.7.8
How To Tell Your Partner You Have Chlamydia
The first thing you need to do when your test comes back positive is to tell your partner. Your sexual partner should know about the infection so that they too can be tested and treated. If you dont tell them about your condition, youre risking getting reinfected.
Here are some tips for handling the conversation:
- Educate yourself about the STD youve contracted so you can thoroughly explain to your partner what exactly you have, the treatment, and how you plan on keeping them safe.
- Inform your current or most recent sexual partner about a positive STD test by telling them face-to-face, or by calling them. Sending them a message is not the most respectful way.
- When telling them the news, stay calm and collected. Sit them down and tell them youve been tested. Tell them that the results are positive and discuss the next steps.
- Make sure you keep your partner from getting infected. Use condoms at all times, take antibiotics, and abstain from intercourse during your treatment.
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What Health Problems Can Result From Chlamydia
The initial damage that chlamydia causes is often unnoticed. However, infections can lead to serious health problems with both short- and long-term effects.
If a woman does not receive treatment, chlamydia can spread into the uterus or fallopian tubes, causing PID. Symptomatic PID occurs in about 10-15% of women who do not receive treatment.30,31 However, chlamydia can also cause subclinical inflammation of the upper genital tract . Both acute and subclinical PID can cause long-term damage to the fallopian tubes, uterus, and surrounding tissues. The damage can lead to chronic pelvic pain, tubal factor infertility, and potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy.32,33
Some patients with PID develop perihepatitis, or Fitz-Hugh-Curtis Syndrome. This syndrome includes inflammation of the liver capsule and surrounding peritoneum, which can cause right upper quadrant pain.
In pregnant people, untreated chlamydia can lead to pre-term delivery,34 ophthalmia neonatorum , and pneumonia in the newborn.
Reactive arthritis can occur in men and women, following infection with or without symptoms. This is sometimes part of a triad of symptoms formerly referred to as Reiters Syndrome.35
How Long Can You Have Chlamydia Without Knowing
Chlamydia is sometimes called a silent infection because the majority of people who have chlamydia regardless of gender never notice symptoms. People who do notice symptoms often dont recognize the signs that they have chlamydia until a few weeks after theyve been infected. Because chlamydia cases are often asymptomatic, its easy to spread chlamydia to someone else without realizing it. And its easy to miss out on receiving the treatment needed to prevent the serious complications that can result from chlamydia.
Does Chlamydia Cause Cervical Cancer
No, chlamydia doesn’t cause cervical cancer.
It’s possible to get a sexually transmitted infection by having sex with someone who has an STI, even if they have no symptoms.
If you have an STI, they’ll also help prevent you from passing it on to someone:
- Avoid sharing sex toys. If you do share them, wash them or cover them with a new condom before anyone else uses them.
Are There Complications Of Chlamydia
Chlamydia can cause serious complications if it isnt treated promptly and properly.
For women, chlamydia can spread into the uterus and the fallopian tubes and cause pelvic inflammatory disease . This can cause problems with pregnancy, such as ectopic pregnancy. Women with untreated chlamydia have up to a 1 in 12 chance of becoming infertile. In men, chlamydia can spread to the testicles and the tubes that carry sperm, causing pain and fertility problems.
Pregnant women who are infected with chlamydia have a higher chance of miscarriage or premature birth. Their babies may also get an eye or lung infection. You can read more about chlamydia and pregnancy here.
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